Archived Story

Promoters make case for e-gambling

Published 11:10am Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The future of charitable gambling came to Fergus Falls on Monday night, and promoters made a push for local organizations to go electronic.

Allied Charities of Minnesota hosted an informational meeting on e-gaming at the VFW. Devices and demonstrations for electronic pull tabs and link bingo were on display for members of more than 50 organizations from the area.

“We believe that electronics have the potential to become an important tool for charities,” said Allen Lund, executive director of the group. “We know the future will involve things like electronics. This is another tool in raising money for their charities.”

Most importantly, Lund said, the group took the opportunity to listen to the concerns of the organizations.

“It’s primarily education. We’re bringing together all the resources groups would need to decide,” Lund said. “It’s to understand the issues their thinking about before getting involved and helping them work through those.”

Many of those concerns were expressed at the meeting, including the belief that electronic games would be too difficult to learn, that all of the money would go toward the construction of the new Vikings stadium and that private information could be easily stolen from the format.

Those concerns, however, are untrue, according to Spanky Kuhlman, vice president of 3 Diamond Gaming Supplies. Even with concerns that are true, however, Kuhlman said he believes the benefits outweigh any negatives.

“For me, the live bingo is going to be huge. Small communities linking with big towns means more money is collected for payouts,” Kuhlman said. “Plus, you can get the customer much more variety and bookkeeping will be easier.”

While their start has been slow, electronic gaming has grown, according to promoters. Kuhlman’s company has link bingo in 93 bars across the state. The company’s manufacturer, E-Tab Manufacturing, has machines in 125 bars.

Across the state, there are 244 live electronic sites of 28,000 gaming sites in Minnesota. Electronic games represent roughly 10 percent of all gambling sites, according to Lund. That’s a good start, and Lund said he expects to see more growth in the future.

“We believe it will be sustainable and it will grow exponentially in our time,” Lund said.

Not everyone was easily convinced, however, and many representatives from organizations remained cautious. For Cathy Anderson and Patrick Rutz, representatives from the Eagle’s Club in Fergus Falls, the group needs to know more about the systems before the club will make any investment.

“We kind of know a little bit about it already,” Anderson said. “We just want to get more information and make a decision on it.”

A big concern for Anderson and Rutz was the safety of personal information on the machines. They were also worried their customers might not welcome change, but recalled days when paper tabs were slow to become popular.

“Customers like opening the paper, but they’re used to it,” Anderson said.

“Everybody has their own system, like some will tear open the middle first,” Rutz said. “We’ll just have to see how this goes.”

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