When people were fighting over the Vikings Stadium, I wrote extensively that the funding mechanism wouldn’t work. Here’s one of the first things I wrote for Examiner on the subject:
“Financially speaking, it’s important to note that charitable gambling profits are falling off a cliff. In 2000, the after tax profits from charitable gambling was $1,500,000,000. In 2008, that figure dropped to $1,032,000,000. The figures haven’t stopped dropping:
More than $893 million was spent on the game in Minnesota in fiscal year 2010, according to Minnesota Gambling Control Board figures released Friday.
That represents a 40% drop in a decade with no end in sight.
This week, MPR reported that e-tab revenues are lagging:
Revenues since pull-tabs started on Sept. 18 have fallen far short of the $100 million monthly target experts initially set for the games. Last month, disappointing revenues prompted state finance officials to cut the expected stadium cash they’d have on hand by half.
The most current data from the Minnesota Gambling Control Board show Minnesotans only played a total of $4.1 million worth of the games through the end of 2012.
By New Year’s Eve, there were just 386 machines up and running, a fraction of the 15,400 electronic pull-tab devices projected to be eventually in play.
The existing machines each are grossing $180 a day, again short of the projected $225 daily take, grossing less per day than the experts’ projection made when the stadium financing plan was being worked on last spring.
“The critical point is just the lack of sites,” said Tom Barrett, executive director of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, which approves the games. “And again, we have a potential pool of 2,500 sites, and as of today, we’re in about 120, 118 sites.
This week, the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee heard testimony on the shortfall. During his testimony, Allen Lund, the executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, tried his best of painting the most dishonest picture of this oncoming disaster:
“Those numbers are going to go up exponentially very quickly, said Allen Lund, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, of the number of charitable gaming sites offering the electronic alternative to paper pull-tabs.
Lund’s and other gaming officials’ appearance before the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee on Wednesday (Jan. 16) might not have drawn television cameras but for the tie to the new $975 million Vikings stadium.
The state’s contribution towards the stadium hedges in part on the success of electronic pull-tabs.
The reality is that King Wilson predicted that revenues from e-tabs would fall short. That’s why he quit as executive director of the Allied Charities of Minnesota. Lund’s declarations run contrary to King Wilson’s stated worries.
It’s only logical that people would worry that revenues would fall short considering the fact that the stadium bill included multiple backup funding mechanisms should e-tabs fall short of the revenue required.
Predictably, the flaws in Gov. Dayton’s and Sen. Bakk’s plan are getting exposed. This isn’t surprising to anyone who paid attention last year.