The North Dakota Gaming Commission met Thursday at the state’s Capitol to discuss allowing electronic pull tabs at gas stations, and liquor, grocery and convenience stores.
“I’m only 56 so I haven’t been going to bars for long, but I know that they’re not perceived to be gas stations,” said Attorney General Drew Wrigley.
“When I think of the word bar, I do not think of a gas station,“ a commissioner said.
The commissioner’s main concern is defining what exactly is a “bar.” The look and language of a bar may have changed over the years, but has it morphed to gas stations and convenience stores?
Some may argue yes.
“It says when alcoholic beverages may be dispensed, the definition of dispense isn’t consumed right? Dispensed means you’re getting something, a pharmacy is a dispensary, they dispense medicine, you don’t consume it there,” said a commissioner.
But most people really don’t know what to think.
The eldest of the commission shared that he has read and been around long enough to understand the original intent of the gaming regulations.
“I was involved with gaming when gaming first became charitable gaming and was put in bars because it was a means to help local small community bars and bars for entertainment’s sake, and still help charities,“ a commissioner said.
Wrigley says that it’s very clear and investments have already been made for people to put these pull tabs where they wish.
“We will be confronted by them everywhere in the state, in convenient stores, gas stations, which if that is what the legislature desires. If they conclude as representatives of the people of North Dakota that, that is the way they want it to be the Attorney General’s Office will regulate that as we regulate gaming now that is our responsibility, we are Switzerland in these matters,” said Wrigley.
He says he will not be Switzerland about the dramatic expansion of the word “bar.”
The commission agreed not to expand what a bar is.
“The vote is to keep the language as stated in the proposed administrative rules, Blake?” asked Deb McDaniel, North Dakota’s top gambling regulator.
“And then a moratorium on the four that we have, that they don’t get penalized,” he said.
With a total of five votes at the Capitol, two being no and three being yes, the motion was passed. The facilities that do have these machines already in place will not be penalized.
Lawmakers are expected to address the issue when the Legislature reconvenes next year.
Wrigley says if there is going to be an expansion of gaming in our state this needs to be a legislative decision.