A state audit says taverns and gas stations are cutting into Wisconsin Lottery profits, in part by playing illegal pull-tab games. "There are some private companies out there, that are legally selling pull-tabs and versions of pull-tabs, based upon a court decision several years back," says lottery spokesman Andrew Bohag. "At the same time there are still some others beyond that, that are operating outside of that law. What we were referencing in the audit was particularly those most illegal pull-tabs that don't confirm to any law. But also we were just drawing attention to the fact that there are some "gray market" pull-tabs, as we like to call them, that operate within this loophole, that are legal, but do have an impact on our business."
Based on a comparison with Michigan's similar pull tab games, it's estimated the state is losing out on about $23 million annually. The audit also found county prosecutors reluctant to charge those running illegal games – and the state Justice Department investigating fewer cases. "We understand that they have priorities, just like we do," says Bohag. The audit also recommends a year end performance review of the lottery's adverting agency, something Boghag says the lottery will abide by.