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Published December 10, 2013, 10:09 AM

Charitable gambling up in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Charitable gambling appears to be rebounding in Minnesota.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Charitable gambling appears to be rebounding in Minnesota.

Pulltabs, bingo and other forms of charitable gambling is up 8.6 percent this fiscal year, according to the Minnesota Gambling Control Board. It's the biggest percentage increase in more than 20 years. Gross receipts are expected to top $1 billion.

"It's just clear to us the economy has rebounded," said Al Lund, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, which represents the nearly 1,200 nonprofits running charitable gambling operations in the state. "People are back out enjoying themselves and are willing to donate to their local charities."

Lund tells the Star Tribune that the younger generation seems to like bar bingo.

"Paper bingo is enjoying a resurgence with young people. It's an interesting development we didn't see coming," he said.

More than 90 percent of statewide charitable gambling revenue still comes from paper pulltabs, Lund said. Electronic gambling accounts for only about 1 percent of revenue, and that lack of interest had state officials scrambling earlier this year to find alternate funding for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium that the games were supposed to underwrite.

Nonprofits cite strong locations as a factor in success. Anoka County's 29 nonprofits eclipsed $101 million in gambling receipts in 2013, a 14 percent jump from 2012, according to Gambling Control Board data. That translates to about $300 in charitable gambling by person in the county, compared with about $200 per person for the state as a whole.

Anoka County had four of the state's top 10-grossing gambling sites in fiscal 2013: a pair of restaurants in Blaine, one in Fridley and one in Ramsey.

Blaine is one of 63 Minnesota cities that take a 10 percent cut of gambling proceeds as allowed by state law. The city will collect $92,000 in 2013. It will give $40,000 to the homeless shelter Alexandra House, $27,500 to local food shelves, $10,000 to the Blaine Historical Society and lesser amounts to other nonprofits.

Blaine officials say its fund has grown faster than expected and the city is happy to share the money with charities.

"People just have more spendable incomes," said the city's finance director, Joe Huss. "It seems to run so hand in hand with the economy and unemployment numbers."

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