Vikings stadium e-pulltabs: Per-machine revenue falling far short of expectations

Think Vikings stadium drama at the Capitol was a relic of 2012? Think again.
Think Vikings stadium drama at the Capitol was a relic of 2012? Think again.

When the plan was approved last May, officials expected the e-pulltabs funding the $348-million state portion of the Vikings stadium to generate $100 million a month. But from their September 18 debut through the end of last year, e-pulltabs generated just $4.1 million -- total.

SEE ALSO: Vikings stadium receives final approval from Minneapolis City Council on 7-6 vote

That figure, reported by MPR, might not be as scary as it sounds. On January 1, only 186 establishments had installed e-pulltab machines. The state ultimately expects that number to ballon to 15,400, with total revenue increasing accordingly.

But the latest numbers suggest that even if 15,400 establishments end up installing e-pulltab machines, their per-month revenue still probably won't amount to $100 million. MPR reports that the up-and-running machines are generating just $180 per day. The state expected $225.

All of this means it'll probably prove difficult to fill the state's stadium reserve fund with the $83 million originally projected to be in there by the end of 2017. Last month, the end-of-2017 number was revised down to $47 million, the Star Tribune reported.

These figures and projections will get their first legislative scrutiny today as the House Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the first four months of the e-pulltabs rollout effort.

And if it's ultimately concluded that e-pulltabs won't be sufficient to fund the state's portion of the $975 million Vikings stadium project? In the words of the Strib's Baird Helgeson, we could be in for another "divisive, complex fight over the issue at the Capitol."

But last month, Gov. Dayton advised patience. As more bars install e-pulltabs, Dayton said he expects the revenue situation to "resolve itself." Time will tell, but the early indications aren't promising.

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