If somebody ever tells you to "stay in your lane"...feel free to run them over.

I feel very strongly about that highly offensive phrase. "Stay in your lane" implies you have a place and people in other places don't give a hoot about anything you have to contribute. It's a phrase best left for misogynistic morons.  That said..

The ND Gaming Commission needs to seriously "stay in their lane"!

On Monday, I shared a story of the growing worries about the expansive growth of electronic pull-tab machines or e-tabs.  These machines are in many ways similar to the slot machines you see in Las Vegas or in Native American casinos. Except in 2017, the North Dakota legislature approved the use of these "e-tab" machines in bars statewide. Not casino slots but e-tabs.  It was a good move as North Dakota's gambling fans/addicts responded accordingly and the state made a ton of cash.

North Dakotans poured more than $1.3 billion into e-pull tab machines in fiscal 2021, nearly double the amount spent in the previous fiscal year, state data shows.

McDaniel said gamblers are on track to wager $1.8 billion in the machines in fiscal 2022, which ends June 30.

North Dakota’s treasury banked more than $25.5 million in gambling taxes last fiscal year, or nearly double the amount collected in fiscal 2020, and three times the sum in fiscal 2019.

Those numbers are thanks to the Associated Press. Seems to me the North Dakota Gaming Association is now riding a sugar-daddy power trip and seeks to control the duties of the legislative branch as well.  Plus they seem to be doing it with the support of North Dakota's new Attorney General Drew Wrigley. But I do believe Drew and his crew are law enforcers and not lawmakers. Not to worry, the NDGA has changed lanes and apparently stepped into the role of lawmakers.

The commission voted 3-2 to alter the definition of a bar to make clear where the Las Vegas-style games that mimic slot machines will be allowed. Lawmakers are expected to address the issue when the Legislature reconvenes next year.

Whatever loopholes the legislature created when enacting their 2017 law have been "legally" navigated by a number of establishments in Bismarck, New Salem, Glen Ullin, and Grassy Butte. That is until a rogue commission put on their big pants and usurped legislative powers and dropped a nobody-asked-their-opinion five-person "legally" binding opinion that they seem to feel is actually "legally" binding.

Can the North Dakota Gaming Commission define what a bar is? Even temporarily?

I think the answer must be no.  You'd probably need to ask Attorney General Drew Wrigley about that. So do these gas-station rebels stand a chance against the all-powerful ND Gaming Association? I think the answer must be yes. At least until the Legislature reconvenes and properly cleans their clocks.

See how we got here by reading the Monday 5/16 story below.


 

State regulators confirm if you give an inch, they'll take a mile every time.

In 2017, electronic pull-tab machines became a reality in North Dakota as the state legislature voted to approve their use. In 2018, the machines began to pop in bars all across the state. In the first nine months of operation, the Associated Press reported the machines took in over $400 million of North Dakotan's hard-earned cash. The state began seeing a huge uptick in profit numbers for all the charity groups involved.

Unfortunately, e-tabs took a huge chunk of cash from tribal casinos in the state.

People are going to choose the closest location to lose their cash. So if that means shoving your money in a machine at a local bar, the gambling "thrill" is still there. I'm not going to argue about the pros/cons of gambling, it's already everywhere.  The North Dakota lottery is a huge money generator with thousands of purchase locations statewide.

So why are state regulators now looking to end the increase of e-tabs?

It begins with a cautionary tale from the state of Iowa.  In 2005, they launched "TouchPlay" machines which I assume are similar to the e-tabs of today. Immediately the state was profiting mightly from the machines.  Yet without proper regulation, those machines started popping up everywhere. Iowans were outraged!

Iowa’s 3,000 machines, which resemble traditional slot machines, were installed everywhere from convenience stores to beauty salons and coffee shops. But they were popular with and easily accessed by minors. In response, the Iowa Legislature banned the machines in 2006.

Well, that sure didn't last long. It was only a years time before the whole thing went up in smoke.  Oh wait, the Iowa government lost a lawsuit in 2007 and had to pay $1.67 million to Royal Financial the biggest user of TouchPlay in the state. So it should surprise no one, that without proper and clear regulation rules, e-tab machines were going to start popping up in odd locations.

E-tabs are being installed in convenience stores "masquerading" as bars.

Or so says North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley. Seems a few enterprising gas stations and convenience stores across the state are now selling/serving booze so they can get the e-tab machines in their business. So now to figure out exactly what constitutes a bar?

they believe the intent of the Legislature was when it defined a bar as a “retail alcoholic beverage establishment where alcoholic beverages are dispensed and consumed.”

The North Dakota Gaming Commission is taking public comments during a scheduled Thursday meeting at the site Capitol.  So if you want e-tabs at your kids' daycare, you'll probably have to speak up.


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