St. Francis Lions end charitable gambling, new group OKd

There will be a new group running the pull tab booth at Billy’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill in St. Francis.

The St. Francis City Council June 22 unanimously approved a gambling permit for the Anoka Area Ice Arena.

For the last 22 years, the St. Francis Lions club has been the only organization to run charitable gambling in town, but the club recently ended its gambling business.

The club voted not to renew the gambling license in May.

There were several reasons for the decision, said Tim Holen, gambling manager.

The 20-member group has about 12 really active members, the club members are getting older, there are site issues, managing the four employees and nebulous state gambling rules, he said.

In 1988, the club started charitable gambling because it was a way to make money for the community, but over the years the amount of money the club has to pay to the state has increased, said Holen, who was the club’s first gambling manager.

Charitable gambling brings in about $14,000 to $15,000. About 43 percent of that goes to state taxes, he said.

Given all the issues, the club decided to end running the pull tab booth at Billy’s as well as bingo and the Friday night meat raffle, Holen said.

Although the club is ending the charitable gambling, it will continue with its other fund-raisers, including spaghetti dinners, Oktober Fest and softball tournaments.

When Holen presented the council with a $1,000 check for Pioneer Days at its June 6 meeting, he encouraged the council to review its gambling ordinance because it has no provisions that would allow the St. Francis community to benefit from charitable gambling done by out of town groups.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com

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