Gambling contribution to stadium funding is small change so far

iPod Touch pulltabThe Pioneer Press’s Doug Belden reports that charitable gambling didn’t amount to much, as far as the Vikings stadium is concerned.

Once hoped to be the main source of revenue, electronic pulltabs and other increases in charitable gambling contributed a total of $89,000 in fiscal year 2013 — although the games didn’t run for the whole year, which ended in June of 2013. State-sanctioned electronic bar gambling didnt’ start until Sept. 18, and didn’t have more than one supplier until Dec. 20, 2012.

That tax revenue figure also isn’t exclusive to electronic games: some of the increase in paper pulltabs and traditional charitable gambling also counts towards stadium funding.

That $89,000 is a pale shadow of the more than $30 million a year the state was projecting it needed to pay debt service on its $348 million share of stadium borrowing. Lawmakers in May approved a one-time cigarette tax and new corporate taxes to fill the gap.

It turned out that Minnesotans just aren’t as interested in electronic pull tabs as state officials thought they would be: the expectation that 2,500 bars would install more than 15,000 games as fast as they could plug them in. A year after the first machine was turned on, the games were in 300 bars, which only only had about 1,300 games.