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North Dakota attorney general pulls plug on pull tab company

North Dakota attorney general pulls plug on pull tab company

071919-nws-stenehjem.jpg (copy)

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem 

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem on Wednesday suspended the gambling license of a company that makes about one-fifth of the pull tab machines in North Dakota, saying the company pirated software used in its machines.

California-based Powerhouse Gaming Inc. failed to show it had purchased a software license for each pull tab device in the state, according to Stenehjem's office. He also ordered that the company's machines be immediately disabled.

Stenehjem in May began an investigation based on information that the company was “using illegal or pirated software” in the machines. The investigation showed Powerhouse had improperly installed a program that was “a software hack that violates copyright laws,” according to the attorney general's office.

The suspension will stay in effect until the company can prove it is in full compliance with all gambling regulations, Stenehjem said.

“North Dakotans, and my office, expect gaming operators to completely comply with our laws. Any violators will be held accountable,” Stenehjem said.

Powerhouse made 489 of the roughly 2,500 electronic pull tab machines in the state. The company is one of five licensed to manufacture the pull tab systems, which are in place in 592 bars and other locations where charitable gambling takes place. More than $349 million was wagered on the machines in 2019, sending nearly $36 million to charitable organizations in the state, the attorney general said.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or


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