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Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety


Requirements for licensing gambling-related business

Minnesota, like most jurisdictions, requires a license for those who want to operate gambling-related business. These licenses are issued primarily for the manufacture or distribution of gambling equipment and devices. Licenses for gambling equipment are issued by the Gambling Control Board and those for gambling devices are issued by the Gambling Enforcement Division.

What is gambling equipment?

Gambling equipment generally includes items such as pull-tabs, bingo equipment, paddlewheel equipment, tipboards, and pull-tab dispensing devices.

What is a gambling device?

A gambling device affords players an opportunity to obtain something of value (other than free plays) automatically which is done principally by chance. The most common types of devices in Minnesota are slot machines and video poker machines.

Are applicants automatically granted a license?

No. Gambling-related activities are among the most heavily regulated businesses in the world. Applicants are screened through a comprehensive background investigation. This investigation involves examination of the applicant's personal, business, and financial relationships and associations. The investigation insures that the applicant meets the requirements for a license, and ensures public safety and integrity in the industry, as required by state law.

Who conducts the investigation?

Special Agents for the Gambling Enforcement Division conduct the license applicant investigations in Minnesota.

How long does it take to complete the process?

Each application is different and it is difficult to provide a specific time frame. A multi-national corporation will take far longer to complete than a sole proprietor who has lived his or her entire life in Minnesota.

How much do licenses cost?

License fees are set by the Legislature, and therefore are subject to change. By contacting the appropriate Division, you can determine the current fee.
The license applicant is charged for the cost of the license background investigation. At the time of the application, the applicant places funds on deposit to begin the investigation. Additional funds may be collected later if the cost of the investigation exceeds the deposit amount. In the event the cost of the investigation is less, the balance will be refunded to the applicant.