Lawmakers in North Dakota seek legal change regarding electronic pull tab machines

In an attempt to stop an influx of electronic pull-tab machines within gas stations and convenience stores, lawmakers in North Dakota are considering a legal change to the gambling law. Such games are popping up everywhere across the state, even in grocery stores and liquor retailers. With a change to the way a bar is defined, lawmakers are hopeful that it will stop the addition of such machines to businesses that are not supposed to be offering such games.

Masquerading as Bars

To get away with offering gambling games, convenience stores and bars in the state are selling and serving alcohol. Acting as a bar, allows the venue to provide such gaming options. Attorney General Drew Wrigley’s office has identified several gas stations and stores that are acting in this manner to offer the games.

The rule change regarding the definition of a bar would clarify and preserve what officials feel was the intent of the legislature when creating gambling laws. The definition as it currently stands lists a bar as a retail alcoholic beverage establishment where alcoholic beverages are dispensed and consumed.

The amended definition would state that a bar does not include convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, or liquor stores. The new definition would allow restaurants, hotels, and bowling alleys to continue offering the games.

A meeting is scheduled this week within the North Dakota Gaming Commission to discuss the change and ph646 take comments from the public.

Pull-Tab Game Industry

Lawmakers approved the electronic pull-tab machines in 2017 but games did not go live until 2018. The state now has over 4,100 machines located at more than 700 sites. Residents and visitors to North Dakota spent over $1.3 billion on the games during the last fiscal year. This was almost double the amount from the previous year.

Gamblers are on track to beat that amount in 2022, reaching around $1.8 million in play. Over $25.5 million in gambling taxes were paid during the last fiscal year. Charities are the recipient of the revenues, with funds covering a wide variety of needs from programs to help those in need to youth sports.

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Gaming regulators feel that the gambling industry will push for the games to remain in all facilities as they do now. While the games are quite popular, regulators are worried that with more gaming options, there will be an increase in gambling addiction and the Native American casinos in the state will be impacted in a negative manner.