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What are the demographics of the communities subsidizing the Vikings stadium?

I looked up the demographic information for the zip codes of the top-10 e-pulltabs locations. While it’s well understood that gambling is a regressive tax (wealthy people don’t waste money on stupid things, leaving non-wealthy people in the position of financing an NFL stadium) this may help illustrate how regressive this particular tax is in practice.

The median household income for the State of Minnesota in 2010 was $56,456. Only one of the top-10 e-pulltabs venues resides in a zip code with a higher median household income: Valley Lounge, 3385 Sibley Memorial Hwy, Eagan, MN 55121.

Here are the top-10:

Median Household Income of top-10 e-pulltabs Venue Zip Codes

The top-10 zip codes where e-pulltabs are having the most success at extracting income from communities have a median household income of $48,355, or 14% below the state average.

Another way to look at this is to check what percentage of people living near Wilfare extraction devices live below the poverty line. In 2010, the poverty line for a family of four was $22,113. Here is how many people live below that level near the top-10 e-pulltabs venues:

e-Pulltabs Venues by Percentage of Households below Poverty Line

According to the 2010 census, one third of the households near Porky’s Bar – the #1 venue in the state for subsidizing Zygi Wilf’s wealth – live below the poverty line. 94% of students at the nearby grade school are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Rep John Kriesel Proud of e-pulltabs exploitation

Rep. John Kriesel was the author of the e-pulltabs bill that became the funding mechanism for subsidizing the National Football League. Now we can see what his legislation looks like in practice.

Kriesel, who did not run for re-election, represented Cottage Grove, which has contributed nothing to the Vikings stadium to date, since they have no e-pulltabs venues:

e-Pulltabs Venues in Cottage Grove

Quite a deal, eh? Stick gambling devices in poor communities so you can extract money from them in order to subsidize the National Football League, the Minnesota Vikings, and Vikings season ticket holders. None of whom actually need to be subsidized. But, they have better lobbyists than people who can’t afford lobbyists, and Rep Kriesel was willing to listen to those lobbyists.

By the way, one of the most ridiculous claims in favor of e-pulltabs came from King Wilson, who was then head of the charitable organization lobbying for e-pulltabs:

“We’re not expanding anything, we’re just taking what we’ve already got and updating it to fit current technology,” said King Wilson, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota.

So, nothing was being expanded, yet stadium funding projections were built on a $40 million per year expansion in gambling revenues through e-pulltabs. Shortly after the stadium bill passed, King Wilson resigned and moved to Hawaii. Perhaps a local reporter could talk their boss into a trip to the islands to gather some quotes for Vikings stadium bill anniversary story?

This post was written by Ed Kohler and originally published on The Deets. Follow Ed on Twitter: @edkohler.

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Kevin Watterson on 03/18/2013 - 10:35 am.

    I generally side with Ed on the stadium front, but I have a hard time labeling gambling as a tax.

    • Submitted by Ed Kohler on 03/18/2013 - 02:50 pm.

      Kevin, I guess I’d consider it a tax because it is a tax. Yes, gambling is optional, but if that’s your reasoning no vice taxes are actually taxes. But, I think the easiest way to tell that it’s a tad is that revenue is being collected that’s fungible with tad revenue. In fact, that’s exactly what’s happening with the stadium with Minneapolis using sales taxes while the state used gambling taxes.

      • Submitted by Adam Miller on 03/19/2013 - 12:42 pm.


        How do I opt out of paying income, sales and property taxes? I can earn no income, buy nothing and own nothing in theory, but not in reality. Avoiding those taxes requires that I give up consumption above and beyond the tax that I otherwise want.

        Meanwhile to opt out of gambling I just have to not gamble.

        It’s not a tax because there is no separate real-world activity that needs to be given up to avoid it. I don’t have to give up other consumption to avoid paying it.

        It’s compulsion that defines a tax, not revenue generation. No one is throwing you in jail for not gambling. Thus it’s no more a tax than if the state were to generate revenue by selling memorabilia at a profit.

        • Submitted by Ed Kohler on 03/20/2013 - 07:14 pm.

          Why not earn income through capital gains instead of working for a living?

          With sales taxes, the taxes – at least today – tend to fall on non-essential items, so you can eat and clothe yourself without paying any taxes. Property taxes are a tougher one to avoid.

          That said, whether it’s an essential or non-essential item or service and it’s taxed, it’s a tax.

  2. Submitted by Mitch Anderson on 03/18/2013 - 11:22 am.

    Gambling is a tax for people who are bad at math.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/18/2013 - 12:40 pm.

    Well done

    I, too, have a hard time labeling gambling as a tax, but there’s nothing at all subtle about where the pull-tab machines have been located and used. The poor are — as is so often the case — being used to subsidize a recreational facility for people who could pay for it themselves, but don’t want to. As Mr. Kohler suggests, areas that are poorer and more rural don’t have lobbyists and lawyers at their beck and call.

    Many a Minnesotan who watches an occasional game on TV, but would never actually go to a Vikings game because it’s far too expensive, will discover that s/he is paying for the stadium s/he can’t afford to attend via the annual tax bill, both from the state and, if they live in Minneapolis, their city.

    Zigi Wylf thanks you, at least I hope he does, and while Mr. Kriesel feels proud of his work, I think embarrassment and shame might be more appropriate.

  4. Submitted by Presley Martin on 03/18/2013 - 01:00 pm.


    I like football, and other sports, but there is a lot wrong with the NFL, and this stadium funding scheme probably won’t pan-out because the poor are getting poorer. How will the public pay when the pull-tabs fall short?

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/23/2013 - 10:16 am.

    This isn’t rocket science

    Gambling is not a tax, it’s an activity. That activity is being taxed in order to pay for the stadium. This is no different than a sales tax, the only difference is the activity being taxed is gambling instead of hotels and restaurants. So no, gambling isn’t a tax, the money being collected from gambling to pay for the stadium is the tax. It’s basically a 10% tax. 70% of the gambling revenue goes to prizes, 10% goes to the bar, 10% goes to charities, and the remaining 10% goes to the government who uses it to pay off the stadium bond.

    If you want to figure out who’s paying the gambling tax you can look at where the gambling it taking place, and if you assume that the gamblers are locals, you can map it out. This is what Ed has done here. Sure, you can avoid the tax by not gambling but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a tax. I’ve never paid the cigarette tax, that doesn’t mean the cigarette tax isn’t a tax.

  6. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/17/2013 - 01:50 pm.

    This is one of the most short-sighted and ill-informed articles I’ve seen on the Vikings stadium mess. It ignores Minneapolis (there’s a lot of poverty in Minneapolis, and pull-tabs). It ignores the fact that Minneapolis is actually paying, and will pay for 30 more years, a TAX, a SALES TAX of .5% on everything we buy and all the services we get to stay alive (gas, water, electricity, etc.), to pay for the stadium.

    We can’t avoid it.

    Minneapolis is actually paying for a huge part of the stadium.

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