Rochester VFW fears pending state decision on electronic gaming will hurt charity

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ROCHESTER, Minnesota (KTTC) – Although legal gambling is growing in popularity across the country, charities in Minnesota can face regulatory challenges. The state Senate held a hearing Wednesday on the functionality of electronic zippers, or electronic tabs, which could negatively impact charities and the businesses that host them statewide.

The Minnesota legislature is reacting to a state judge’s ruling a year ago on whether electronic zippers look too much like slot machines. The judge ruled no. The bill before the Senate would further regulate their use.

Electronic zippers are seen as an important way for charities such as Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to obtain much-needed funds.

“It’s just one more option for them to play charity games. It helps the VFW a lot because they are charity games. Keeps money in the local community where that money belongs.” said Chad Stowers, game director and junior vice commander of VFW Post 215.

The problem with electronic zippers is that native tribes view them as a waste of income. Due to the technology and make-up of electronic zippers, tribes fear that people will hop onto casinos and spend their money on these devices instead. If the government does not further regulate the use of electronic zippers, casinos fear they will be in financial difficulty.

“Electronic drawbars don’t mimic slot machines. They never have. So why this legislation? It seems like a solution looking for a problem,” Stowers said.

Even though the Native American people of Minnesota are the only group allowed to operate slots, the VFW says that shouldn’t matter, as the drawbars are completely different.

“The electronics are clean, it’s simple, we’re a tech world, it’s very technical, it’s just fun to make, and it helps the local community. So you should try it out and see if you like it, “Stowers says.

VFW members believe this initiative, already adopted by Minnesota House, is strictly political.

“It’s all about the money. In the first year electronics brought in $ 16 million for the state. Now it’s over $ 579 million for the state. People want a share of that money. “Stowers said.



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