A decision of a Minnesota appellate court this Monday essentially deals another heavy blow to the industry, arguing that a previous decision by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board in 2019 was in the wrong and venues such as restaurants, bars, and other properties hosting EPTs presently were in fact doing so without an official go-ahead.
EPTs have been a dogged and contentious bone for the state with the arguments running familiar. Small business owners have called EPTs a lifeline during the nadir of the pandemic and said that without them – they might as well go out of business. Far more importantly, EPTs are an important generator of revenue for charities. Tribal gaming operators see the EPTs as a threat to their own gaming operations, as these machines resemble slots way too much to get a pardon and not be regulated.
Tracing the Cause of the Problem with EPTs
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) has taken up arms and brought a case against the Control Board in 2019, forcing the issue and requiring that EPTs are classified as slots or that the regulator change its current definition of slots.
Owners of EPTs are not in the wrong either. Minnesota did choose to legalize these solutions as a good source of additional revenue for the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Grievances festered though, and the Control Board told vendors to restrict their machines to those that revealed one symbol at a time. The vendors expectedly pushed back, and the regulator caved.
However, the SMSC had anticipated this outcome and filed a lawsuit of its own. The past years have been a to-and-fro between the regulator and business owners on one side, and the tribes on the other. But Monday’s decision is actually what the SMSC touts as a victory against a sector it sees as operating illegally.
Big Money in EPTs, Are They Here to Stay?
But even so, EPTs have become a vital part of the state’s economy, generating $1.9 billion in revenue in 2022, based on the regulator’s report. Profits realized through EPTs are then forwarded to nonprofits and charities, which gives a strong moral case for the existence of EPTs. The SMSC is unwavering in its assessment, however.
A statement released by the organization said: “The Minnesota Gambling Control Board has ignored the plain meaning and legislative intent of the law authorizing electronic pull-tabs in its approval of games which mimic slot machines.” Still, the fight is not yet over. Electronic Gaming Group executive group Sam Krueger said that EPTs are here to stay despite what he described as the tribes’ efforts to snuff out charitable gaming in the state.