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E-pull tabs hardly taking off at Minnesota airport

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — New electronic gambling at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport isn't proving to be a big draw among passengers, who are spending only a tiny fraction of money than what officials had projected.

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The Star Tribune reported Tuesday that passengers have spent $33,586 playing the electronic pull-tabs devices in the past six months. That's far behind the pace for $3 million in expected spending for the year.

The e-pull tabs were supposed to fund the state's share of the new Minnesota Vikings football stadium.

A Metropolitan Airports Commission committee voted Monday to let the gambling continue, with a full panel vote on the extension due at the next meeting. The iPad style devices are in six airport bars and restaurants.

Officials said there were complications at the airport because software and wireless connections had to be changed and there were special security considerations.

In coming weeks, staff assigned to e-pull tab duty will be trained on how to encourage customers to give the games a try.

Jana Vaughn, executive director of the MSP Airport Foundation, said she hopes that push will lift revenue numbers for the remainder of the year.

"It's a daunting task," Vaughn said. "This is hundreds of people getting one-on-one training. But we think this will ultimately be successful."

This spring, the Legislature revamped the stadium funding plan to provide a backup to the gambling revenue using dollars that would have otherwise wound up in the general treasury.

Minnesota Sports Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said the disappointing e-gambling revenues overall won't affect the upcoming stadium bond sale.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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