After soundly rejecting a call to abolish the state lottery, Minnesota senators voted unanimously Monday night to study ways to change its management and business practices.
The bill comes on the heels of a legislative audit that was critical of promotions and vending contracts by the lottery. During that review, the lottery's director, George Andersen, committed suicide.
The bill sets up a task force that will report to the 2005 Legislature on whether the lottery should be run by a state agency, continue as is or have another governance structure that provides more accountability. It also would make it easier for the governor to fire the director or change leaders when administrations change.
The audit found that Minnesota's lottery spends more money and provides less to the state than comparable lotteries and had questionable relationships with some vendors.
"We are reacting in a reasonable and deliberate way to the recommendations that were made," said Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope.
Since it was established 15 years ago, the lottery has been run like an independent business, with millions in profits going into the state's general treasury and environmental programs.
Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, argued that the lottery is beyond repair and said it was time for the state to get out of the gambling business.
"We've had an experiment with the state lottery; maybe it's time we had an experiment come to an end," he said.
Hann's amendment, which would have done away with the lottery next year, failed on a 44-19 vote.
The companion House bill will be discussed in a committee on Tuesday.