One of the issues raised during the March 14th Senate Local Government and Elections Committee hearing on the Vikings stadium corporate welfare bill came from Sen. Benjamin Kruse (R-Brooklyn Park) who asked questions about what backup funding sources would the state have to rely upon if electronic pulltabs didn’t produce as much revenue as the state estimates.
That’s a very fair question. As I understand the issue, if people don’t flock to electronic pulltabs, the state would have to make up the difference by raiding the state’s general fund. As in, we would be taking money from schools, roads, and health care to make the debt payments on the stadium we built for Zygi Wilf.
Which makes me wonder: why would anyone find electronic pulltabs interesting? Here are the thoughts I’ve come up with and heard about electronic pulltabs in recent days.
1. Personally, I’d be LESS likely to use pulltabs in electronic form. The paper form, to me, is more social. When I open a loser, I can throw it down on the table or flick it at a friend of mine. I don’t believe I’d be able to do either of those things with an iPad style pulltab device.
2. Kids these days that are busy on their phones at bars are not likely to turn their attention to electronic pulltabs. While paper pulltabs may not seem all that cool versus the latest iPhone, it’s not the electronic nature of the device that makes it more popular than paper pulltabs. It’s what they’re doing with that device. Do you really think that paper or electronic pulltabs can compete with a 24 year old getting an alert on her phone that someone has commented on a photo she’s been tagged in on Facebook? No chance.
3. One group that may find electronic pulltabs more attractive than paper pulltabs is gambling addicts. Lets say that you just ripped through $100 of mostly losing pulltabs. In the paper pulltab world, will that gambling addict make the walk of shame to redeem their $4 in winners for another $100 in pulltabs? Or, if they are $96 in the hole while huddled up in the corner of a bar, will they keep pouring more money into the machine without human interaction?
What I’m saying is that, intuitively, I don’t think electronic pulltabs will attract the crows that electronic pulltab promoters claim they can. And they may drive our state’s problem gamblers even further into the hole.
All to subsidize – not a charity – but a private NFL franchise owned by a New Jersey businessman.