Organizations lobby against changes to e-pull tabs in Minnesota

Electronic pull tabs have been in Minnesota for a decade, and sales have been extremely popular throughout the state. Monday, a group of organizations that benefit from e-pull tab revenue lobbied at the capitol against changes to the system.

"E-tabs now account for 30 to 40 percent of our monthly net receipts," said Allen Lund of American Legion Post 172.

They came to the capitol as a preemptive push - American Legionists, nonprofit directors, and others - to defend keeping electronic pull tabs as they currently are, fearing there may be a move to roll them back to a simpler version -- though there are, at this point, no bills to do so.

"We are just one of the hundreds of organizations, local organizations, that are supported by these dollars," said Elizabeth Brown of Cross Services.

"We know that there are discussions happening and that a bill is likely to be dropped... so we just want to be proactive about getting the word out about how important this industry is," said Rachel Jenner of Allied Charities of Minnesota.

E-tabs began a decade ago as merely electronic replicas of paper tabs, as a funding source for U.S. Bank Stadium, and were slow to take off. But as they evolved, with more features resembling slot machines, their revenues soared, and charitable donations with it.

"We do approximately $50,000 a month in donations and that might be on the low side," said Pat Logan of Bayport Post 491.

Last year, $131.5 million went to nonprofits from all forms of charitable gambling, with paper pull tabs contributing 50% and e-tabs contributing 45.6%.

Its author, Representative Zach Stephenson, is non-committal about it but says it won't be wrapped into his sports betting legislation.

"The sports betting bill isn't going to have anything to do with electronic pull tabs. We're not going to make any changes to electronic pull tabs in the sports betting bill – end of story," said Representative Zach Stephenson, a DFL member from Champlin.