ABC 6 Investigates The Money Trail: Minnesota State Lottery

Updated: 05/12/2014 9:14 AM
Created: 05/12/2014 7:33 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- You hear us talk about it from time to time, those huge lottery jackpots worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But when you play the Minnesota State Lottery, where does your money go?

"First of all I don't want a lottery," said Representative Greg Davids of Preston, MN.

He isn't shy about criticizing the lottery. He calls himself an anti-gaming legislator.

But state lottery sales aren't slowing down. Last year, operating revenue reached a record $560 million.

The Minnesota State Lottery reports last year, people in Olmsted County spent $15 million on games. $5 million of that on lotto and more than $10 million on scratch-offs.

"Do you want to put more money into bee pollen research or rural schools? I'd rather have more of it go to rural schools," said Davids.

He's talking about the fact that under the state Constitution, the money has to go to certain areas. Last year 13% of it went to the state general fund, which helps pay for education. Nearly 62% of it went to prizes.

Nearly 11% or $60 milllion went into three different wildlife funds. The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund received the most, $34 million. That money funds state projects. For example research to combat invasive species.

How the money is spent is decided on by a group of lawmakers, including Representative Paul Torkelson.

"I'm actually a big believer in research. My personal preference would be less on the land purchase side and perhaps a little more on the research or projects that have an impact on the ground," said Torkelson.

Overall, he believes the money is being used appropriately.

"We're getting out and about and seeing actually what these dollars are doing when they get across the state so that we are confident the projects we fund are having a beneficial impact," said Torkelson.

We noticed on the state lottery's website, it shows Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in Preston has received $450,000 from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to expand the park.

Since Davids represents that area, we asked him if he supports that use of funds. He told us he still doesn't think the state should rely on funds from the lottery and that he's supported other legislation for that state park.