Al Lund from Allied Charities wrote an “explanation” piece in the StarTribune on March 16th that explained why e-pulltabs revenue is nowhere near where it was projected to be. He explains that there are vendors who are still waiting or approvals, which is keeping games from being installed, which keeps revenue from coming in (only ~150 of a projected 2,5000 locations are up and running so far). This, of course, doesn’t explain why revenue is also missing projections where e-pulltabs have been installed when you look at it on a per-venue or per-device perspective.
Then, Lund explains that e-BINGO will be our savior:
The most promising new e-game — electronic bingo linked to sites across the state — isn’t yet available at all. By connecting players around Minnesota, e-bingo will generate jackpots of $25,000 or more several times a day. E-bingo promotes the social interaction that makes paper pulltabs popular. While e-pulltabs have their place, they are mainly a solitary game. E-bingo is broadcast on a big-screen TV at every site, allowing players and nonplayers to share the excitement of a big jackpot.
Here’s the issue with that: the same group that projected that e-Pulltabs would bring in $189 million year in net receipts from e-pulltabs projected that e-BINGO would bring in $34 million. Think about that. e-BINGO is projected to bring in 18% of what e-pulltabs were projected to bring in. And, to be clear, the net revenues are the money that’s divided up among a gambling device vendor, a bar, a charity, and the state’s share of the mortgage of Zygi Wilf’s stadium, so if e-BINGO actually hits projections some day, it will be good for around 1/5th of the mortgage payments.
Considering how much e-Pulltabs are off projections in a negative way by around 90%, e-BINGO will need to be hugely off projections in a positive (as in, really effective at exploiting grandmas who’d prefer to play BINGO on electronic devices than paper) way to make up the difference.
e-BINGO is off to a slow start, with zero of 1,500 projected sites online so far. As of now, e-BINGO would need to exceed projections of 1,500 venues by around 6,000 venues to make up for e-pulltabs shortcomings. That seems unlikely.