Pull-tab sales, both paper and electronic, surging in Minnesota

Pull-tabs are a constant at Minnesota establishments and both paper and e-tab sales are surging statewide.

Minnesota’s love affair with the pull-tab just keeps getting stronger with another record year and after a slow start in 2012, the electronic version is now showing a huge sales jump, too.

At nearly 3,000 establishments in Minnesota, you’ll find the old school, paper pull tabs and any time of day, you’ll find people ripping away.

Minnesota took in $2.3 billion in fiscal year 2019 from five kinds of charitable gambling. That number rose for the ninth year in a row.

The king is the pull-tab, accounting for 93 percent of that money and paper tabs keep going up every year. However, e-tabs are now surging, too.

Half of the places that offer paper tabs now offer the electronic version. Bunny’s in Northeast Minneapolis is one of them.

Introduced in 2012 as a way to boost revenue for U.S. Bank Stadium, e-tabs sputtered. By 2016, they were up to $90 million in sales. In 2018, that number jumped to $360 million.

In 2019, $595 million in e-tabs were sold in Minnesota.

The Minneosta Gambling Control Board says there are more sites offering the e-tabs, but as they’ve increased, they haven’t taken away the paper version. One has not hurt the other.

“Well, we hope it’s all discretionary income that people are spending on it right now,” said Gary Danger, of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board. “It could be economy, a lot of times there’s a correlation, and low gas prices and hopefully that’s more discretionary income.”