By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There’s a new television commercial that has prompted a flood of emails to Good Question.

The commercial is from the Minnesota Lottery and claims “since 1990, the lottery has generated over $3 billion for our state.”

That has several WCCO viewers wanting to know: Where does that lottery money go?

In 2018, Minnesotans bought $596 million worth of lottery tickets. About 62% of that went to prizes, 7.5% to administration and expenses, and 6% to retailers who sell the tickets.

The other 25% goes to the state of Minnesota. In 2018, that amount was $145 million.

Add up those annual amounts since the Minnesota lottery’s inception in 1990 and that’s where the $3 billion comes from.

So, where does that money end up?

“In the end, it’s the legislature that ultimately makes that decision,” says Adam Prock, executive director of the Minnesota Lottery.

Minnesota’s constitution spells out how that money should be divided. Sixty percent goes directly to the general fund and 40% goes toward environmental programs.

In FY 2018-2019, Minnesota’s general fund is expected to be $563 billion, which would make the lottery contributions equal less than 1%. The bulk of the state’s general fund goes toward education and health and human services.

The 40% of state lottery revenue goes toward environmental projects ultimately approved by the state legislature. Some of those have been projects to fight invasive species, connect children with nature and promote pollinators like butterflies and bees.

“Without those lottery dollars, many of those projects would not exist,” Prock said.

Heather Brown