Minnesota State Lottery officials announced Wednesday they are closing regional offices in Brainerd and Eagan on May 21.
"It made business sense to close the Brainerd office," said acting lottery director Mike Vekich.
Vekich said the decision to close two of the six regional lottery offices was made as part of a comprehensive plan developed after a recent legislative audit. The audit, he said, examined personnel and facility costs as well as the geographic locations of each office. Lottery officials eliminated one regional office in both the northern and southern part of the state.
"Our goal is to maximize contributions to the state and to increase the efficiency of lottery operations, while offering fun, innovative and secure games for our players," Vekich said. "The new structure will position the lottery for the future revenue growth and is part of the overall business reorganization."
The closure of the Brainerd office, at 523 S. Sixth St., will mean the office's three employees will lose their jobs. Another Brainerd employee previously was laid off last October during an initial round of layoffs.
Vekich said a total of 15 employees were notified Wednesday that their positions were being eliminated because of the two office closings. One person opted to retire while several will be laid off. Some state lottery workers are employed under union contracts that may give them the option of being moved to another state position.
Regional offices will remain open in Virginia, Marshall, Detroit Lakes and Owatonna with lottery headquarters in Roseville.
"We hate to see the office closing," said Lisa Paxton, chief executive officer of the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce. "We think that our central Minnesota location in greater Minnesota is ideal for the surrounding retailers. Gloria (Vande Brake) and her team have been strong chamber members and active in a number of policy areas within the chamber."
Brainerd lottery employees declined to comment about the office closure and referred all media questions to lottery headquarters in Roseville.
According to lottery officials, players can redeem winning tickets up to $30,000 at the Brainerd office until 5 p.m. May 21. After May 21, players may redeem their winning tickets at any of the other regional offices or by mailing the winning tickets to Minnesota State Lottery, P.O. Box 131000, Roseville, MN 55113. All prizes of more than $30,000 must be claimed in person at lottery headquarters in Roseville.
The Brainerd lottery office has been open since the Minnesota State Lottery began in 1990.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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