Pull-tab infractions, illegal 'mystery shots' found in random Minnesota bar checks

A random, 39-bar compliance inspection by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DPS-AGED) and the Gambling Control Board turned up infractions in seven of those bars, including an illegal raffle and “mystery shots."

The compliance checks were done during a two-month period in the following cities:

Winona: 15 bars
Mankato: 10 bars
St. Cloud: 14 bars

Agents discovered what they call "minor infractions" in seven of the 39 bars, including contaminated product, illegal play of pull-tabs by employees, an illegal raffle, serving “mystery shots” and out-of-date pull-tab inventory.

Contaminated liquor usually has fly-like insects or bottles that have been tampered with and diluted product. Mystery shots, which are illegal, are an unknown mixture of liquors served out of a bottle inside a paper bag.

Agents also review pull-tabs and investigate any potential illegal sports betting. Football boards and other betting boards for pay are considered gambling. Outside of licensed charitable organizations, gambling that consists of consideration, chance and prize is illegal. Removing one of those three elements make it legal.

"We are very pleased that most establishments were in compliance during our bar checks," said Michele Tuchner, director of DPS-AGED. "This shows that establishments are taking their responsibility to serve alcohol and conduct gambling activities seriously. Even though the infractions found in 20 percent of the establishments were minor and teachable moments, it shows that there is still work to be done."

These compliance checks focus on liquor license inspections that include required license postings, records and receipts, and checking the purity of alcohol.