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ACM Update on Electronic Gaming Bill

14 Apr 2021 15:48 | Rachel Jenner (Administrator)

Members,

An update on HF2366/SF1863. This bill would repeal the current electronic/linked bingo games that have been approved by the GCB and significantly restrict the type of electronic games that the GCB can approve in the future.

This past Sunday evening I was advised by the House Commerce Committee Chair that the tribal bill to make changes to electronic gaming (HF2366) would be heard in his committee this week. HF2366 was heard in House Commerce yesterday, Tuesday, April 13 and passed on a 12 to 5 vote. Today it was heard in House Ways and Means and amended to the Commerce/Energy Omnibus bill, which was passed. It is now on its way to the House floor for a vote, probably sometime next week.

We are working to understand what is happening in the Senate on the bill (SF1863).

I testified against this bill yesterday. At the end of this note is my testimony.

The bill in its present form is harmful to charities and our site partners. Charities and our site partners had nothing to do with designing or approving games. We are only able to offer what the GCB approved. If the legislature and administration feel that they must make these changes, there needs to be remedies included that would help mitigate loss of revenue. Anything less will be punishing charities and sites for something that we had no part in. Making this change without making it right for us is very wrong.

This will be my message to my legislators: Representative Bahner,  Senator Limmer, HF2366/SF1863 will make substantial changes to limit what can be offered in charitable electronic gaming. Charities and our site partners had nothing to do with the designing of the current games or approval of the games, yet our ability to help others will be hurt if the bill is enacted. I am asking you to vote against this bill. IF it is going to be progressed relief must be included for charities and our site partners along with not making any star rating change for charities. The dust needs to settle as to what this change will mean to our ability to serve our mission and community before we are held to a higher standard in the star rating system. I am asking you to not hold us responsible for something that we had no part in. Thank you for your time and consideration. Regards, Al Lund Osseo/Maple Grove American Legion member and Osseo Lions Club member.

If you currently have electronics or are in any way concerned about the ramifications of such changes, you need to take the time to let your legislators know what you think of the bill. Find out who represents you at https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/

Regards,

Al Lund

Al Lund, executive director Allied Charities of MN. ACM is a 501(c)6 organization that represents licensed gambling charities in Minnesota. Thank you chair and committee members for your time today.

I am here today to speak in opposition of HF2366. If passed the bill would negatively impact our ability to serve, although to what degree is not known.

I was on the ACM board when electronics were passed in 2012 and soon after that became the executive director. Playing electronics is a different experience than playing paper pull tabs. To my knowledge there has been no research into whether the increasing acceptance of electronics is due to the form or the games themselves.

For me personally electronics have been a bit of a love hate relationship. The St. Michael American Legion, where I at one time was the gambling manager was one of the first sites in the state to get electronics back in December of 2012 and they still have them today. There is less oversight involved with managing electronics than paper, but the charity makes less on electronics than we do on paper. Overall we are the number two beneficiary behind the state in total charitable gambling, but in electronics we are number three behind the state and the manufacturer. I have struggled with the charity not being the number one beneficiary of charitable gambling, yet I am bemused when those that profit from charities find it hard to understand that I hold that belief.

In part, the bill would eliminate bonus games or bonus features in an electronic pull-tab game.  Bonus features have been central to paper pull tab games in Minnesota since the 1980’s and continue to be played today.  A bonus feature in a paper pull-tab game involves the use of a seal card. A seal card is a placard that accompanies a deal of pull-tabs and contains one or more seals, that when opened reveal a prize.  Players qualify for the opportunity to compete for a seal prize by opening a pull-tab that directs them to the seal card.  The player might have the opportunity to pick a seal to be opened, or the ticket might designate the seal to be opened. No seal card prize may exceed the prize limits imposed by state law.  The seal card simply extends the play of the game for the predetermined and limited number of players in the deal who have tickets that qualify them for the seal round.

This bill says that electronic pull-tabs must replicate paper pull-tab games.  This bill eliminates the electronic replication of an entire style of paper pull-tab game. Bonus features in e-tabs replicate seal card games and allow players to advance to a bonus screen, just like players advance to a paper seal card.  Electronic pull-tabs offer more entertaining graphics than a paper seal card, but the result is the same.  A predetermined and limited number of players in the electronic deal have the opportunity to qualify for the bonus round and the possibility of winning a prize.  Fundamentally, the play of the game is the same in the paper and electronic format.

In FY2020 charities netted $14 million from electronic gambling for mission and community. The charities have had no part in designing or approving e games since they were approved in 2012. I have never believed that an intent of the bill was to harm charities, but with no provisions in the bill (such as tax relief) to help charities mitigate any revenue loss, hurting charities will be a consequence of the bill.

ACM urges the GCB and tribal representatives to work together to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the issues at hand without legislation. Thank you for your time.


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