ROSEVILLE, Minn. - Minnesota is about to enter the new millennium world of electronic pull tab gambling.
For years, bar patrons have played the paper version of the gaming by ripping open tiny windows on the back of cardboard pieces. In the new version of pull tabs, the game and the playing are all done on an iPad.
If the Minnesota Gambling Control Board approves the devices at its Tuesday meeting, five Twin Cities bars could begin offering the new gaming devices on Tuesday. "There will be more signing up and we do anticipate more manufacturers, both prospective and existing manufacturers, making products down the road as well," said Gary Danger, Compliance Officer for the Gambling Control Board.
"Currently, there are 1200 non-profit organizations that conduct charitable gambling at 2800 sites across the state." Danger explained that the electronic devices are an option for the charities, not anything mandatory. The charities continue to control the gaming, taking in and depositing the money and insuring that the proceeds go for operating costs and the "charitable purpose."
Further, there is no upfront cost to the charities for the iPads. The manufacturers of the games put up the capital for the iPads, then lease them to the charities. A bar with up to 200 seats can have up to six of the devices. Those with more than 200 seats can have up to 12. Bingo halls can have up to 50 of the electronic pull tab devices.
Although some have expressed concern about the device being intimidating to some players, Danger said it has not been a problem when the staff at the Control Board experimented with the devices.
The operation is fairly simple. A player pays for the pull tabs in advance just like they would with paper pull tabs. The pull tab worker loads the iPad with the advanced money and the player takes the device back to their seat. There is no concern about theft because the iPad will not work outside the licensed bar and it has a tracking device in it should someone leave with the iPad.
In the version of the device currently available, the screen shows half a dozen games that can be selected with a touch of a finger. A dollar amount to be wagered is entered and the prizes available for that game can be displayed, also with a touch of a finger. All of the games are designed to be finger-operated.
Winnings and account totals are displayed at the bottom of the screen. Once a player decides to cash out their winnings or simply stop playing, they take the iPad back to the pull tab booth, return it and receive any winnings.
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