Gambling on the park system

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January 17, 2005 // UPDATED 1:48 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

Proposed lottery game could benefit city

Park-themed instant lottery scratch games could net the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board more than $100,000 a year for operations and maintenance, under a bill to be introduced at the Legislature.

Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he planned to introduce a bill that would dedicate part of scratch game proceeds to support the park system in the city where the tickets were bought, whether Minneapolis, Rochester or Detroit Lakes.

Minneapolis accounted for 5.5 percent of the $211 million scratch game tickets sold in 2003, or approximately $11.6 million, according to an April 20 state lottery memo.

Most of the sales price goes to prizes, sales commissions, administration and other costs. Of the proceeds ($32.7 million in 2003) 40 percent is dedicated to environmental and natural resources programs, the rest goes to the state General Fund.

If the lottery issued four to five games a year dedicated to local parks, Minneapolis could expect to receive $107,250-$134,750 a year, the lottery analysis said.

Constituent Bill Butler, a Kenny resident and coach, came up with the idea to have a parks-themed scratch game, Thissen said.

The plan would divert $1.95 million to $2.45 million from the state's ailing General Fund and put it into local parks.

"We will have to find money to replace it," Thissen said. "On the other hand, with all the cuts to local government aids, there may be people who are interested in helping out the parks."

The idea could also boost lottery revenues, he said. If people know the money is coming back to their community, they might be more likely to play.