The Minnesota Lottery contributes millions of dollars to great initiatives across the state, encouraging social and environmental projects that benefit many communities and protect vital resources and wildlife. The money from the Minnesota lottery is divided into various funding pools that can then be distributed to a variety of worthy causes and projects, from educational services to programs that enhance responsible fishing and hunting in the area.

Funding from the Minnesota Lottery is divided up into four camps: the General Fund, the Natural Resources Fund, the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, and the Game and Fish Fund. We’ve broken down exactly how each of these funds is used to contribute to projects throughout the state:

General Fund

The Minnesota Lottery contributes 13.7% of its earnings to the General Fund. In the 2015 fiscal year, that was about $73.3 million. The General Fund does a bit of everything: most programs headed by the State of Minnesota get their budgets from the General Fund.

Educational programs are one of the top recipients. The majority of educational spending (41%) from the General Fund goes to K–12 education, although some (7%) is passed to post-secondary programs and services. Also benefiting from this fund are health and human services programs; property tax aids and credits; economic development; transportation; and criminal justice, among others.

Natural Resources Fund

About 2.4% of Minnesota’s lottery money goes into the Natural Resources Fund. Nearly half of this funding (45%) is spent on state parks and trails, and a similar amount goes to parks and trails in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Other projects that receive a portion of this money are the Duluth, Como, and Apple Valley zoos. Lottery funding goes a long way to ensuring that rare and endangered species maintain a safe and healthy life in the conservatory.

Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund

About 6 cents from every dollar spent on lottery tickets goes to the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund. In the 2015 fiscal year, this was around $34.5 million. Since the Fund was initiated in 1991, it has provided about $360 million to over 800 different state projects.

The money from this fund contributes to the operations of a variety of state and local trails and parks, the enhancement of fishing and hunting programs, and more. An example of this funding at work is the maintenance and expansion of Brown’s Creek Trail, which stretches across a former railroad grade, follows the scenic Brown’s Creek waterway, and is surrounded by lush broadleaf forest.

Game and Fish Fund

In the 2015 fiscal year, the Minnesota Lottery contributed $12.8 million to the Game and Fish Fund. This fund supports responsible and safe hunting and fishing in the area. The Fund may be used for any project that enhances or protects fish and wildlife, including conservation and restoration of land and water resources. Projects like the Trout Stream Assessment benefit from this funding. It works to monitor and record the health of trout streams in the area.

These State Funds all benefit from lottery funding. So next time you buy a lottery ticket you can be proud that you are also supporting your local walking trails, zoos, wild fish, schools, and more! Everyone in Minnesota benefits from lottery dollars, even if they aren’t the ones winning the jackpot.

Photo: Tomaz Kunst /