Proposed changes to E-tabs has some people worried

(ABC 6 News) – As lawmakers at the Minnesota capitol work out the details of the tax bill, one section regarding electronic pull tabs concerns some.

The DFL tax bill proposes changes to how electronic pull tabs look and operate.

Democrats in a press conference said, “That is to rely on policy to a recent court case and, most importantly, keep our promises to our sovereign nations of Minnesota.”

The court ruling claims the one touch e-tab is too similar to a slot machine at casinos. The DFL wants to make sure that promise is kept.

Chad Stowers, the gambling manager with the Rochester VFW, says e-tabs and slot machines operate differently.

“It’s a standalone system. If you go to a casino and play slots, it is not like playing an electric pull tab on an iPad,” said Stowers.

Under the new legislation, e-tab systems would move away from one touch to a three-touch system that would be more similar to a traditional, paper pull tab.

In a statement the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association says,

“This clarification of gaming features is not an elimination of electronic pull-tabs or bingo. Current e-games have evolved beyond both the plain reading and intent of the current statute.

“When you are playing a slot machine, those odds in what’s happening is not set. When you press the button for the electronic pull tab, that’s a pre-determined prize that you are winning out of a deck of pull tabs they are just electronic versus paper,” said the Executive Director of the Charities Alliance Minnesota Rachel Jenner.

Jenner believes this will hurt revenue from pull tabs from taking more time to go through. The money helps fundraising efforts from more than 1,100 charities in the state.

Stowers says, in the first four months of the year, the VFW has made over $37,000. That money is donated right back into community organizations like supporting veterans, the Special Olympics and Rochester youth sports.

“That’s going to be millions of dollars that’s going to be taken away from the communities where it belongs. We are good steward of this money,” said Stowers.

ABC 6 News reached out to DFL lawmakers in our area, and none were available for an interview.

If the bill passes, changes to E-tabs would take effect July 1, 2023.