On March 29, 1983, the residents of the city of Beatrice approved by special election the establishment of a lottery by the city. In February of 1991, the city entered into a contract with a lottery operator to establish a keno-type lottery.

Over the past 25 years, the city has had three different lottery operators, all of which paid a portion of the gross keno proceeds back to the city to be used for community betterment projects. In 25 years, those community betterment proceeds have brought $3.18 million dollars back to the city of Beatrice, which have been used on various facility, park and public safety projects.

Those projects include $401,000 for the purchase of property and subsequent renovations for the current police station; $580,000 toward the construction of the Big Blue Water Park, plus $636,000 in water park debt payments; $150,000 for the Carnegie renovation project; $116,000 toward the Senior Center; $52,500 to help with Veterans Memorial Park; $30,000 to the YMCA for soccer fields; $167,000 for various trail projects, including the city’s share of the new Chief Standing Bear Trail; $60,000 for the initial Skate Park plus another $80,000 in recent years for replacement pieces; $10,500 to create a dog park; $131,000 for campground improvements; $104,000 for playground equipment, and $214,000 in other various park improvements and equipment; $39,000 for bridge sidewalks; $165,000 for police equipment; and $233,000 in computer and communications equipment for city offices.

The city is fortunate to be able to utilize these special funds to provide for projects that will benefit the citizens of Beatrice.

In the beginning, the city saw $200,000-$220,000 annually brought into the fund. However, with the popularity of the state lottery and neighboring casinos, that amount has reduced in recent years to a net of $65,000.

The current lottery operator contract is with Big Red Keno. They have four locations in Beatrice that offer keno play. For every dollar of keno played, 11.25 cents comes back to the city (of which 2 cents is paid to the state).

So the next time you see keno being played, know that a part of those proceeds benefit your community. This article is not intended to promote gambling, but to bring awareness to those that do enjoy an occasional game of chance and encourage them to play keno locally, as it benefits your community.

As a closing note, the city of Beatrice Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015 is now available on the city’s website. This report contains not only the city’s audited financial statements, but also a statistical section, pages 137-157, where you will find some interesting 10-year historical information. Should you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Linda Koch is finance director for the city of Beatrice.

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