Have e-pull tab sales bottomed out? Don't bet on it

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We all know electronic pull tab sales are small -- much smaller than state officials expected them to be. But as small as they are, they keep shrinking.

MPR analyzed numbers provided by the Gambling Control Board and found the average machine was taking in $43.65 per day in July. That's a far cry from the $225 state officials projected last year.

It's also less then the average of the previous month, continuing a streak of ten straight months in which per-device sales have declined, MPR says.

Much of the pressure on Minnesota's charitable gambling industry was removed this spring when Gov. Dayton found an alternative way to come up with money the state has committed to a new Vikings stadium. So now Minnesota is no longer counting on electronic pull tab and bingo players to pay off state-issued bonds.

And it's a good thing. As the Star Tribune reported last week, even at the Twin Cities airport use of the iPad tablets to play games of chance is not taking off. $3 million a year? How about $34,000 in the first six months.

The head scratching continues, even if the game-playing does not.

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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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