You Were Warned – Really!

Last March, conservative bloggers – Gary Gross, me, and others – warned you that the Dayton Administration’s plan to use gambling revenue to build the stadium was pure vapor, and that Ted Mondale (of the Sports Facilities Commission) was blowing smoke up Minnesota’s collective skirt, since gambling revenues have been shrinking, not growing.  Charitable gambling revenues have been falling off for years; the Administration’s plan involves having gambling receipts double.  Immediately.

Yesterday we noted that the Administration is starting to walk back the shell game.  And now we’re discovering that the main venue for the electronic pull tabs that the Administration is counting on – veterans clubs – just aren’t adopting the new toy.

Dave Thul, writing at True North, is on the story:

 So the question is why Legions and VFW’s are so unlikely to move into E-tabs? The answer is complicated, but boils down to three main reasons. First, demographics. The average gambling manager and post commander is over 60 and set in their ways.

Most post officers and bookkeepers are volunteers, so they don’t get paid for running the gambling operations. But they are financially liable for any mistakes they make, meaning a simple gambling system is a safe gambling system.

Second is technology and a bit of Luddite-ism. Despite efforts to get younger veterans involved, the majority of VFW and Legion posts in Minnesota have internet access only for email or transmitting legally required gambling reports. E-tabs require a high speed always on internet access. E-tabs are also 100% dependent on technology; a power outage or a computer virus means no gambling. Paper pull tabs can be opened by candle light if necessary, and bar staff are familiar with the possible ways to scam the system. E-tabs need additional plug ins, charging stations, always on wireless internet connections that are secure against hackers, and a big investment in training time for bar staff.

The third reason is survival. The smoking ban that took affect in 2007 was a devastating blow to VFW’s and Legions across the state, and resulted in a fair number of posts being closed. Ever increasing taxes, ever more burdensome regulations (remember most bookkeepers are volunteers) and a recession that is dragging out into a fifth year are all taking a toll in posts statewide. Faced with all of these issues, bringing E-tabs into a post is simply a bridge too far for most to consider.

Beyond that?  The actual game machines; the state isn’t approving them for use in the state, even if bars and clubs do start turning out wanting them.

So how much are the people going to have to cough up to pay for Zygi’s Real Estate Upgrade “The People’s Stadium”?

We’re not going to know for quite a while.


12 thoughts on “You Were Warned – Really!

  1. You have to admire the NFL business model which relies upon a public subsidy to a profitable (privately held) business. These economic subsidies are economically inefficient, are horrible economic development tools, and they fail to produce the returns on investment to the public that they claim. What part of this do politicians not understand?

  2. I agree with both you and Emery, Mitch. But, what can we expect when we see the same shenanigans and lies when the legislature rams things like economically inefficient projects like mass transit (read light rail) down our throats?

  3. Emery said: What part of this do politicians not understand?

    the part where us peasants want to deny them, Democrats & Republicans alike, their incredibly fat campaign contributions and the occasional access to a skybox.

  4. kel,
    good one!

    The governor and the stadium coalition have demonstrated its pro-business attitude when it gave the Vikings and the business community a new stadium.

  5. Actually, we DO know. Latest report says the revenue is $18 million short of the $34 million expected. In other words, less than half. I guess that is to be expected, when you let half-wits vote on this thing.

  6. So this way of extracting money from people who don’t/can’t do math isn’t working because the oldsters down at the VFW don’t want to mess with them new-fangled electronic pull tabs. Sounds like time for KENO!
    I was in Ohio for the Thanksgiving holiday and nearly every bar/restaurant I entered had a KENO machine and screens. I had seen these on the East Coast, but this game is making its was Westward. And the odds are really crappy for the player (and very much in favor of the house, er, make that state) with KENO. It’s all direct wired to the state so the oldsters won’t have to do any paperwork. Of course the Applebee’s and the TGIFridays will also have them so it’s one more reason not to go to the VFW. I suppose I could be faulted for giving GuvJimBeam another way to screw the peasant class to pay for the middle-class subsidy of having professional sports in this cold Omaha (and the subsequent stadium construction and vending jobs), but goodness knows they’ll figure it out eventually anyway.

  7. Emery,

    Unless the definition of “business community” is unreasonably restricted, this is a public gift to Vikings owners, Vikings fans who believe public money should be spent on their pastimes, and only the downtown Minneapolis businesses in the surrounding area.

  8. Troy,
    It is my impression that the Chamber of Commerce was all in on this deal.
    Although I would suggest that the hospitality industry will be one of the primary businesses to benefit from the stadium.

  9. It is my impression that the Chamber of Commerce was all in on this deal.

    The one for downtown Minneapolis, yes. Other places? Maybe not so much.

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