MINOT — Charitable gaming has exploded in North Dakota, fueled primarily by the soaring popularity of electronic pull tab machines, which are almost indistinguishable from slot machines in the way they function.
The tidal wave of revenue these machines produce has turned gambling into a cut-throat, multibillion-dollar industry. One of the side effects of this turn of events is some increasingly suspect relationships between nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses.
Attorney General Drew Wrigley’s office is pursuing a complaint against gaming industry interests that he says have used a veterans-oriented charitable organization as a way to circumvent gambling regulations. Some charitable organizations, like youth sports groups, have taken to buying for-profit businesses like bars to stop their gaming locations from being poached by competitors.
Now I can report an example of the opposite — a for-profit business seemingly using charitable gaming to benefit itself.
EPIC Companies is an organization with its fingers in a lot of pies. Per their website, they’re involved in water parks, resorts, housing, real estate development, construction, event management, and charity. The company recently made headlines with plans for developing “hybrid-style hotels” in communities across the state.