Tuesday August 6,2013 : AIRPORT ONLINE GAMBLING FLOPS IN MINNEAPOLIS
MSP Airport Foundation earned a mere $1,900 in six months of operations
An online gambling project to raise revenues to help fund the Minnesota Vikings stadium has shown little promise of success in its first six months of operational activity.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport became one of the first airports in the United States to launch electronic gambling in January, projecting that the iPad games it made available in airport bars and restaurants would rake in $3 million in 2013.
Six months later, however, passengers have spent just $33,586, with 85 percent going back in player prizes, and rent, equipment and taxes reducing what was left in profit to just $1,900.
Despite the setback, on Monday a Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) committee voted to let the gambling experiment continue in the airport's six bars.
Bar staff will be encouraged to urge travellers to give the games a try so that year-end numbers will be far stronger, said Jana Vaughn, executive director of the MSP Airport Foundation.
The project suffered delays due to software and wireless connections, which had to be revamped for use in an airport that has hundreds of employees with wifi access.
The electronic pulltabs that folks were playing in Minnesota bars and restaurants were not designed for a high-security, high-volume corporate setting, Vaughn explained. New software and new Wi-Fi connections were necessary, she said.
Due to the technical delays, the games didn’t really get into players’ hands until May, Vaughn said.
Then it was a matter of letting passengers know about them. Signs outside the bars and restaurants offered the opportunity to have a flutter, Vaughan said.
So far just two of the airport bars – Fletcher’s Wharf and Itasca Grille – are driving about 60 percent of sales, she said, adding: “If we can get the other four sites to their level, then we’ll be in business.”
Jon Weaver, CEO of Express Games MN, the e-games distributor, said he is confident the technological changes have made the games airport-ready.
“There were some special circumstances because everything at the airport has higher security,” said Weaver.