The Hopkins Youth Hockey Association has become the first organization to formally ask the city to allow electronic gambling devices that the Legislature is counting on to fund the new Vikings stadium.
Angela Quale, the organization’s gambling manager, asked the City Council on Tuesday for a policy change that would allow the organization to use electronic bingo.
“I guess our big fear of it is that if St. Louis Park and Bloomington bars and restaurants start doing it, we’re going to lose business to those establishments because we can’t offer it,” Quale said.
The change is needed because the electronic gaming devices the association would use include both electronic pulltabs and electronic bingo—with pots that may reach $150,000, Quale said.
Under the city’s current legislative policies, organizations can’t host bingo games except in premises they own, occupy or lease. The Hopkins Youth Hockey Association, for example, sells pulltabs out of the Mainstreet Bar & Grill and Tuttle’s.
Legislators allowed charities to use electronic gaming devices under the theory that they’d lead to an increase in charitable gambling—resulting in more money for both the charities and the state, which already gets a cut of charitable gaming. The state is counting on increased pulltab use to help pay for about one-third of the new Vikings stadium.
Council members aren’t sure they’re such a great idea for Hopkins, though. They worried that smaller charities would have a harder time paying for the devices and wouldn’t be able to compete against organizations that have the devices.
The discussion is just beginning, though. City staff will look into the issue further, and council members may discuss the idea at a future work session.
“We’ll have to go back and research that a little more,” said Mayor Gene Maxwell.