The state would raise its contribution through an expansion of charitable gambling. Under the plan, the state would authorize electronic pull-tabs, which would allow bars and restaurants to operate hand-held gambling devices. State officials are banking that the iPod-like devices would be more appealing to consumers, causing the state to get a higher take from gambling proceeds. The state would sell bonds to pay for its share of the stadium and then use increased gambling profits to pay them off.Would the "iPod-like devices" be more appealing to consumers? And more appealing than what? More appealing than other forms of gambling? More appealing than a blunt stick in the eye?
It made me wonder -- just how well are the pull-tabs doing today? The latest figures I could find were in this report from Minnesota Public Radio's website:
In 2009, paper pull-tabs generated $36.6 million in revenue for the state. Electronic pull-tabs could bring the state as much as $42 million more, according to House Researcher Pat McCormack and the Allied Charities of Minnesota, unless charitable organizations succeed in winning a tax break, which would lower that figure.So in other words, we once again are relying on projections from our old friend Rosy Scenario. Now the Vikings are not exactly a charitable organization, except to opposing offenses in the NFC North (I keed, I keed), so it's more than a little unseemly as well. But it's easier to try to get in on charitable gaming action than it is to take on the tribes that run Mystic Lake, Treasure Island, etc. And the ballot box would be a pull-tab that no one associated with the deal wants to play.
If this deal goes through, I imagine that the state will find buyers for the bonds. What I wonder about is what the state will do when the revenue streams they claim they have turn out to be "disappointing" in a few years. It's not as though they'll be able to claw back any extra money from Zygi Wilf.
Bottom line on this one is simple -- it really doesn't matter what R. T. Rybak, or Zygi Wilf, or Ted Mondale tell you -- the taxpayers are going to be paying for this stadium. It would be better if all these eager folks would stop pretending otherwise.