Minnesota judge: Electronic pulltabs don't violate tribal gambling monopoly

The state's tribes argued that the single button on e-pulltabs made them similar to slot machines. 

Electronic pulltabs, the source of public funding for U.S. Bank Stadium, survived a legal challenge Thursday by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

A state administrative law judge ruled that the pulltabs offered in bars by charitable organizations don’t infringe on the exclusive rights of the state’s Indian tribes to operate video slot machines.

The signature element of slot machines is the spinning wheel, Judge Barbara Case wrote, adding: “The mere push of a button is too far attenuated to constitute ‘mimicking’ of a slot machine.”

The judge heard oral arguments in late February.

The Legislature legalized e-pulltabs in 2012 as part of the deal to build a new stadium for the Vikings. The video pulltabs were designed to provide the $30 million needed annually to make payments on the state’s share of the stadium debt and operating costs.

The games caught on slowly. In the first year, fiscal 2013, e-pulltabs brought in only $16 million. But in the most recent fiscal year that ended last June, e-pulltabs brought in $596 million.