Recent statements in the News Tribune defending Sen. Tom Bakk’s misguided effort to kill electronic pull tabs — including the May 27 “In Response” column, “Legislative fix needed as electronic pull tabs evolve into slot machines” — couldn’t be more wrong.

It’s time to set the record straight.

The May 27 column claimed that e-pull tabs played in Minnesota bars, restaurants, and veterans clubs have the potential of “becoming slot machines.” It further maintained that the expansion of e-pull tabs was “never authorized by the Legislature.”

Both assertions are nonsense.

The truth is that the e-pull tabs played across Minnesota are, and have always been, in complete compliance with state law. In fact, a state administrative law judge dismissed a petition brought by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community regarding these very claims in 2020. The judge ruled that the tribe “failed to present compelling evidence to show that open-all electronic pull-tabs mimic a video slot machine.” The judge also stated that “The mere push of a button is too far attenuated to constitute ‘mimicking’ of a slot machine.”

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Furthermore, the photo the News Tribune chose to accompany the commentary showed a game that is illegal in Minnesota. The photo’s caption stated the photo was of an electronic pull-tab machine in Bismarck, North Dakota. In Minnesota, e-pull tabs are played on iPads.

I am proud to stand with Minnesota’s charities, bars, restaurants, and veterans clubs in support of e-pull tabs and the wonderful charities they strengthen. While Sen. Bakk and the casino lobby sought to pull the plug on e-pull tabs during this legislative session, many of us fought back.

Our grassroots movement in defense of e-pull tabs and the charities they boost will continue.

Thomas J. Coulombe

International Falls, Minnesota




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