CHICAGO – Minnesota is banking on electronic bingo games to bolster its pot of expanded gambling revenues needed to repay its $348 million share of borrowing for the new $900 million Minnesota Vikings professional football stadium.
The Minnesota Gambling Control Board on Monday approved the new charitable games in which players would compete against other gamblers at various locations around the state. The prizes are expected to lure gamblers with potential prices of up to $75,000.
The state last year launched electronic pull-tab games to help finance the stadium but revenues have so far fallen short of projections. Legislation paved the way for expanded pull-tabs and bingo.
The state collects and keeps taxes on the gambling profits – which go to charities. Additional revenue is also expected as the number of bars that offer the electronic pull-tabs expands.
Lawmakers have expressed concerns about lackluster gambling revenue figures and whether as a result the state general fund could wind up on the hook for debt repayment. The state intends to sell $500 million of appropriation-backed bonds to finance its share and the city of Minneapolis’ $150 million share of the stadium costs.
The state has some breathing room as the issue is not expected to sell until at least August.
The team is contributing $477 million towards the project and on Monday the National Football League approved a $200 million loan.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority hopes to break ground later this year on the new stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The authority was established under state legislation to oversee development of the stadium.
The 65,000-seat stadium is to be built adjacent to the 30-year-old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, and open in time for the 2016 NFL season.
The city will make annual payments to Minnesota beginning in 2021 and continuing through 2046 to retire the state debt. The city will use revenues from various hospitality and sales taxes that now go to repay its convention center debt.