St. Francis to drop spending rule from gambling ordinance

by Karin Craig
For the Union

The St. Francis City Council Monday decided to drop a proposed new requirement that all charitable gambling proceeds within the city must be spent only in the city’s trade area. The city’s trade area is defined as the city of St. Francis and its contiguous cities and townships.

However, the council will be keeping another important stipulation in the amended rules that requires charitable gambling groups to pay 10 percent of their net gambling proceeds to the city.

The decision to drop the trade area expenditure requirement was largely a result of concerns by the St. Francis American Legion Post, a major operator of charitable gambling activities that benefit many who are from areas outside of St. Francis, including many of its own members.

Although the council had previously discussed simply exempting the American Legion from the provision, City Attorney Scott Lepak said that the city cannot legally make the ordinance applicable to some but not all lawful gambling entities.

According to state statute, “A more stringent regulation or prohibition of lawful gambling… must apply equally to all forms of lawful gambling within the jurisdiction of the political subdivision.”

The city may use the 10 percent of charitable gambling net profits it will receive in 16 different areas, including public safety services, wetland management projects approved by the Department of Natural Resources, giving to organizations who help gambling addicts and giving to non-profit groups.