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The Hidden, Unexpected Public Costs of a Stadium

The state of Minnesota has found that it's expected revenue stream from new e-gambling games will not be sufficient to fund a new Vikings stadium.   The practical problem for the state government to solve is how to get people interested in e-gambling.  The answer is: with a tour of state officials and other vested interests (HT Neil DeMause).

To drum up interest in the electronic games, Allied Charities will launch its tour June 10. Leaders from the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, the Minnesota Department of Revenue and the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association will be available to answer questions. E-games manufacturers and vendors will also be available, Lund said.

The idea is to let charities get a firsthand look at the products now available, answer questions about installation, customer response, tax ramifications and more, he said.

Roughly 1,200 charities are licensed to sell the e-games in 2,800 bars and restaurants and fraternal halls across the state.

Since the games were launched last September, about 200 sites have made e-bingo and e-pulltabs available to customers.

...“Our hope [for the tour] is we increase money for our [charity] missions by selling more games, which in turn provides more tax revenue for the state, and ultimately we hope enough revenue to pay for the stadium,” Lund said.

Taxpayers were told that the new stadium would not be funded from the general fund, so the state created a new product to tax to fund the stadium.  But why couldn't e-gambling revenues be put into the general fund?  Not putting them in the general fund is an opportunity cost to the state.

The money spent on e-gambling also doesn't come out of thin air.  It probably would have been spent elsewhere in the state, probably on something taxable.   Here we have another opportunity cost to the state.

Also, the state officials presumably would have had better things to do with their time rather than touring the state, so time spent trying to drum up interest in e-gambling gives us another opportunity cost to the state.

To paraphrase, there ain't no such thing as a free stadium.  Anybody who tells you otherwise is pulling your e-tabs legs.