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Minn. regulators OK rules for electronic gambling

The Gambling Control Board has unanimously approved guidelines for new hand-held gambling devices in Minnesota bars and restaurants. Electronic pull-tabs and bingo games are being introduced to help fund the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The board also approved a Las Vegas-based gambling equipment vendor to make the electronic devices.
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The Gambling Control Board has unanimously approved guidelines for new hand-held gambling devices in Minnesota bars and restaurants. Electronic pull-tabs and bingo games are being introduced to help fund the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The board also approved a Las Vegas-based gambling equipment vendor to make the electronic devices.

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The proposal would allow electronic pull tabs, electronic bingo and sports-themed tip boards. The bill was originally meant to fund a new home for the Vikings, but the bill's author, Republican Rep. John Kriesel, separated the issue from the stadium, saying he was worried the stadium controversy would sink the gambling expansion.

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Although electronic pull tab gambling and electronically linked bingo will provide the state with the funds to pay its $350 million share of the new Vikings stadium, the trade group that represents more than 1,200 licensed gambling operators tells MPR that it will likely be many months before any machines are available.

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A new era in electronic gaming in the state could begin as soon as next week. The hand-held electronic pulltab devices that Minnesota is counting on to help finance its share of the new Vikings stadium may turn up in bars and restaurants Tuesday, provided the state's gambling control board approves them.

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The state's gaming control board on Tuesday said bar and restaurant patrons can begin playing new electronic pull-tab gambling games. At least two places in St. Paul, Mancini's restaurant and O'Gara's bar, planned to begin offering them immediately. State officials hope the devices – iPads loaded with gambling software – will bring in as much as $72 million to help pay the state's $350 million share of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

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Minnesota Public Radio reports gambling control board executive director Tom Barrett says his staff already has an application from a distributor of the machines and he expects more to come. Thousands of Minnesota bars and restaurants will soon be eligible to offer the gambling machines to their patrons.

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Electronic pull tabs pulled in more than $600,000 in Minnesota during the first month of the new games. The Gambling Control Board heard a report detailing the spread of the games to bars and restaurants around the state. Some of the revenue from the games will pay the state's portion of a new Vikings stadium.