Archived Story

Charitable gaming gives back locally

Published 9:49am Tuesday, January 14, 2014

There is a lot of confusion surrounding how charitable gaming in Minnesota works and what gets to the bottom line for mission work.

The typical gaming charity in Minnesota returns 82 cents of every dollar wagered to the local players in the form of prizes. The remaining 18 cents is left to pay expenses and make donations. Of that 18 cents, roughly half, or 9 cents, goes to expenses (labor, cost of games, bonds, supplies, rent, etc.). Of the remaining 9 cents, 3.6 cents goes to pay state taxes. Put another way, charitable gaming is paying about 40 percent of its revenue after expenses in taxes. The remaining 5.4 cents — about 60 percent of the revenue after expenses — goes back to our communities in donations.

Unlike any other business, we get to deduct no expenses before paying our taxes. Last year charitable gaming paid $40 million into the state coffers and gave over $40 million to our missions. Not all money for donations gets paid out every year. Those charities whose mission it is to provide big ticket community items such as fire trucks and ice arenas place those funds in reserve until enough funds are available to make the donation. This can take several years of building reserves to achieve that goal.

Charitable gaming pays for its own oversight and regulation; there are no taxpayer dollars that go to it. The regulations, rules and laws that we must abide by to keep operating span 500 pages. We have a compliance review by our regulatory body every 18 months, and if you are over a certain dollar amount in sales, you need a certified annual audit by a CPA. Minnesota gaming charities must maintain a three-star rating (out of five potential stars) to maintain a gaming license in the state. Those with a rating of two stars or less are put on probation, and if they cannot raise their rating in a specific time period, their license is revoked.

We are the churches, fire reliefs, veteran, fraternal, youth and athletic groups, etc. that reside in almost every community in our state. We are the first line of defense for people and groups in need in our local communities. The vast majority of us work for no compensation. As I like to tell anyone who wants to know about us, “We are the good guys.” Participate in our games or not, that is your choice, but know that when you do it is for a great cause. Charitable gambling is definitely the best bet for your local community.

 

Allen Lund
executive director
Allied Charities of Minnesota St. Paul