Bingo May Help Finance a New Stadium For the Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings fans have come up with an unusual way to finance the construction of a new stadium for the renowned football team. King Wilson, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, says that the state needs to change the way charities are taxed. Recently the Minnesota governor’s office proposed a modest reduction in the rates charities are taxed but Wilson remains skeptical. The state is counting on the expansion of online gambling to finance the new stadium’s construction. The charitable gaming expansion includes the addition of pull tab games and internet bingo.

On March 9th the Vikings stadium bill that will be formally unveiled next week was released to the press. Wilson’s group, the Allied Charities of Minnesota, says that estimates of the cash flow from expanded internet gaming will not be anywhere near the projections by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Last year the Department of Revenue said that expanded gaming options would increase business at bars, VFWs and American Legion and estimated that the state would generate an extra $72 million in taxes annually.

New projections say that the state will actually generate about $62.5 million with the same amount going to charities. The reason for the lower projection is the repeal of a 1.7% tax on distributors who rent the new gaming machines. Taxes on charities making more than $900,000 per year would decrease from 6.8% to 5.86%. Charities say that since the taxes apply to gross revenues before expenses and prizes are deducted the new rates are extortionate and can reach 50% in some cases. Electronic bingo games will be taxed at the same rate as pull tab games.

Wilson says that high taxes are pressuring charities and that the high costs of installing the new gaming machines will decrease profits further. Wilson says that some charities may be forced to lower their prizes decreasing the number of players. Some charities say that since the bingo games have not been successful in the past there is no reason to believe that they will generate more sales and profits. Darlene Christensen, the CEO of the Hoffman Senior Citizens Club said that “Our people wouldn’t go for that at all.” (Referring to the electronic bingo machines) Hoffman said that most seniors prefer old fashioned bingo games. The current stadium bill is working its way through the House and Senate committee process. Who knew that bingo could be used to finance the construction of a stadium?