St. Paul bartender's hot streak gets Trend Bar in hot water

The bartender illegally won $3,800 playing pull-tabs where she worked.

The bartender illegally won $3,800 playing pull-tabs where she worked.

A St. Paul bartender was on a hell of a roll. The only problem was that it was against the law.

The drink slinger at Trend Bar near University and Snelling avenues was a pull-tab stud this March. Over a three-week period, she won an impressive $3,800 popping those perforated tickets sold at any dive worth its grease stains. Had her hot streak occurred at any other bar, it would have been fine. But state law prohibits employees from playing the charitable games where they work.

“It’s a big perception problem,” says Gary Danger, compliance officer with the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, noting that it’s rarely an issue. “If there’s a seller doing something inappropriate the players aren’t going to play there.”

At each bar, the games are backed by a nonprofit that reaps the proceeds from High Life-fueled tab pulling. Since it’s the nonprofit that has the gambling license, they’re tasked with training bar staff on the do’s and don’ts, such as not playing at your own bar.

While Danger says there was no indication anything other than luck led to the bartender’s run, the group behind the games at Trend, Adonis Eco-Housing, learned of the infraction and blew the whistle on itself. The nonprofit has since pulled its charitable gambling operation out of the Midway dive bar.

“It’s pretty tough to say the charity did anything wrong in that they found it, they reported it and ended up getting out of there because they didn’t want to deal with the inappropriate behavior,” Danger says.

Calls to Trend were not returned. But on Wednesday, the St. Paul City Council was slated to approve slapping the bar with a $500 fine. That’s, like, 140 whiskey Cokes in dive bar money.