North Dakota has hit the jackpot with tax revenue from electronic pull tabs. Since the form of charitable gaming came to the state in 2018, gaming revenue has more than doubled.

Despite 2020 experiencing fewer people going to bars, it was the first year ever that revenue from gaming reached a billion dollars. The number of e-pull tab machines exploded from around 480 to more than 3,300, and the number of sites offering them grew from 130 to 655.

Starting in July, it will be the first time that revenue from gaming will fund the entire gaming division within the attorney general’s office, with seven new employees hired to help with enforcement and auditing.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says by the end of the biennium, the state will have made about $26 million from the enterprise, compared to about $6 million last biennium.

“Had never seen that level here in North Dakota, and that was a time when people were not eager to go anywhere because of COVID and a lot of the bars were shut down. Even so, the amount of e-tab activities increased dramatically all through all of that,” Stenehjem said.

However, the uptick in e-pull tabs has not been welcomed by tribal casinos, who say their profits are being undercut by the state’s revenue.