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Commission halts Vegas-style games at gas stations, stores

Pull tabs in North Dakota
Pull tabs in North Dakota(KFYR)
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 9:11 AM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Gaming Commission endorsed a rule change Thursday that creates a moratorium on electronic pull tab machines at gas stations and liquor, grocery and convenience stores.

The commission voted 3-2 to alter the definition of a bar to make clear where the Las Vegas-style games that mimic slot machines will be allowed. Lawmakers are expected to address the issue when the Legislature reconvenes next year.

Attorney General Drew Wrigley and Deb McDaniel, North Dakota’s top gambling regulator, told the governor-appointed panel that idea for the rule change is to clarify and preserve what they believe the intent of the Legislature in 1994 when it defined a bar as a “retail alcoholic beverage establishment where alcoholic beverages are dispensed and consumed.”

The amended language specifies that a bar does not include gas stations and liquor, grocery and convenience stores. A bar in a hotel, bowling alley or restaurant could still have the machines, under the new definition.

McDaniel said four stations/convenience stores have begun selling and serving booze and have put the machines in their businesses. The businesses are located in Bismarck, Grassy Butte, New Salem and Glen Ullin. Those businesses will be allowed to continue offering the games until the Legislature ultimately decides the placement of the machines.

“I’ve never thought of a gas station or convenience store as a bar — that’s not what anybody envisioned,” Wrigley told the panel.

Wrigley warned commissioners that without an immediate definition change, North Dakota would see an explosion of the wildly popular machines, and not enough regulators to keep tabs on them.

“I can’t just go out and hire a bunch of regulators tomorrow,” he said.

Previous Coverage: North Dakota regulators aim to hone in on e-pull tabs

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