State crafts rules on high-tech gambling

Published 9:02 am Wednesday, July 4, 2012

ST. PAUL — Regulators overseeing a significant gambling expansion to pay for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium are on the verge of adopting requirements for new hand-held devices coming soon to bars and restaurants across the state.

Among them: They can’t resemble video slot machines, they must allow for independent integrity checks, they need to cap the price of each game at $5, and they have to contain safeguards against hackers or anyone attempting to rig games.

The electronic pull-tabs and bingo games are central to a plan to retire hundreds of millions of dollars in public stadium debt. The Minnesota Gambling Control Board could vote later this month on the equipment standards, a crucial step in moving the gambling expansion from the drawing board to reality, perhaps by fall.

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“There is a sense of urgency. Bars want them. Charities want them,” said Tom Barrett, the board’s executive director.

Minnesota will be the first state to widely offer electronic pull-tabs. It’s also gaining pioneer status with electronic linked bingo, where players in multiple locations vie for a common pot of money.