Break Out the Lucky Strikes, Helga Braid Nation

It’s becoming pretty close to a moral imperative at this point — I would strongly suggest that all members of Helga Braid Nation take up smoking, post-haste. Yes, there are well-documented adverse affects on the health of those who smoke, but c’mon, kids — we have to get the Vaseline Dome paid for. And boy howdy, those electronic pulltabs aren’t getting it done:

Another month, another slide for electronic pulltabs. That billion dollar-plus vision the state had back in 2012 seems to be slipping away altogether this summer.

The chart shows one of the games’ critical financial markers, the daily “per device” gross sales average, calculated from data provided by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board.

That average was projected in 2012 to be $225 for about 15,400 devices across the state. An MPR News analysis of gambling control board data shows that average fell to $43.65 for July — less than 20 cents on the dollar of what was projected.

$43.65? Bake sales do significantly better than that. Here’s the chart that MPR writer Tim Nelson references, by the way, and it’s a beaut:

Big money

More importantly, this stellar result comes after a public relations push:

But the number has been on a steady decline for 10 months and continued to slip despite a nine city “road show” marketing push in June from Allied Charities of Minnesota.

Minnesota added only 16 electronic pulltab sites in July and just 28 electronic pulltab machines, according to the gambling control board. It’s the second-slowest month on record for the roll out of the games.

Of course, there are reasons for all this — pulltabs have traditionally been the province of local organizations; a bar might set up a pulltab booth to support the local youth organization or somesuch, not the bottom line of New Jersey businessmen. At less than $45 a day, the games are barely covering the cost of the equipment itself.

Still, if you want to understand why the stadium is going to get built no matter what, you should ask an expert (via Fraters):

In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved.

The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in. 

That’s the voice of Willie Brown, a longtime majordomo of California politics. We’ve got our hole; better fill it up with cigarette butts.

Cross-posted and comments welcome at Mr. Dilettante’s Neighborhood.