NU Council allows gambling at Johnson Park

City Council approved a gambling license for the New Ulm Baseball Association at Johnson Park during their meeting Tuesday. NUBA president Bob Skillings assured the council it would only be used at adult events like Brewers games.

NEW ULM — Despite not being recommended by the Park and Rec Commission, City Council unanimously voted to approve the New Ulm Baseball Association’s (NUBA) request for a gambling license at Johnson Park during their meeting Tuesday.

The license would be used for pull tabs, e-tabs, and potential raffles. The gambling would only occur at adult games, like amateur tournaments and New Ulm Brewers games.

The resolution was voted down 2-4 by the Park and Rec Commission. No one from NUBA was available to clear up potential concerns at the Park and Rec meeting. Park and Rec director Joey Schugel said these concerned potential youth interaction with gambling.

“The feedback from the commissioners was they weren’t sure of gambling in that setting,” he said. “They had a few concerns with the spillover of potential youth activities.”

Councilman Dave Christian, who also serves on the Park and Rec Commission, said it would be the first time they would give a gambling license to a city-owned facility. Schugel said state law requires 20% of the gross profit from gambling go to the city as the building owners.

NUBA president Bob Skillings was able to attend the City Council meeting. He apologized for not being able to attend the Park and Rec meeting and assured councilors everything would be according to guidelines.

“You can trust us to be discreet with these activities when they’re held at the ballpark,” he said. “For the most part, it will be during the men’s amateur games, which would be the Brewer game and Tomahawk League playoff games.”

On the gambling exposure to children concern, Councilman Eric Warmka said even if children did see pull tabs and e-tabs it would not be an unknown.

“You can’t go to a family restaurant in town that doesn’t have some version of tabs,” he said. You’re not exposing children to something they don’t see on a casual basis. I don’t see why that would affect the actual good that comes from the gambling that some do.”

Warmka also emphasized the funds would be used to continue improving the parks, which they are always looking for money to do. Skillings said NUBA invests in more than just the park.

“We’ve given money to the high school athletic departments, junior baseball, the senior athletic banquet that we had recently,” he said. “When high school teams make the state tournaments, we generally give them money so they can have a special dinner. It’s not just the ballparks we use this money for, but also for the youth themselves.”

Councilman Les Schultz made the motion to approve the gambling license for NUBA at Johnson Park, with Warmka seconding.


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