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Panel approves electronic pull tabs; devices to help pay for Vikings stadium

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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The Minnesota Gambling Control Board on Tuesday approved the state's first electronic pull tab games, launching one of the state's strategies for paying for the new Vikings stadium, the Star Tribune reports.

The panel approved five pull-tab games made by a Las Vegas company, and a few bars and restaurants that include Mancini's Restaurant and O'Gara's Bar and Grill in St. Paul were poised to offer them as early as Tuesday, the newspaper reports.

"We're very excited," Dan O'Gara told MPR as the devices, iPad tablets with dedicated gambling software, were prepared Monday night. He planned to bring them out for customers at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The state is expecting the games to bring in as much as $72 million in new revenue – a good chunk of the $350 million the state has pledged for the construction of the new Vikings stadium to replace the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, MPR notes.

The Minnesota Sports Facility Authority wants to move quickly to begin work on the new stadium, to open in 2016, and plans to announce an architect for the project in early October.

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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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A plan to install electronic bingo and pull-tab machines in bars and restaurants is a popular suggestion when it comes to how the state could raise the money for a new Vikings stadium. But at least one expert says it would be a big gamble. The only revenue estimates we have are based on current sales, and no one can guess how customers will react to the new games.

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