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METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) — State lottery workers say they’re open to the idea of using unclaimed prize money to pay for additional state police patrols in the French Quarter.

The Louisiana Lottery Corporation’s Director of Communications issued the following statement to WGNO News.

“The Louisiana Lottery has enjoyed significant success in achieving its mission to maximize revenue for the state of Louisiana under its current statute. We welcome the opportunity to work with the legislature to continue that mission while also finding the best solution to help solve the state’s current budget situation,” the statement reads.

The idea comes from State Representative Helena Moreno.  She says every year, about $9 million in winning prize money goes unclaimed.  Under current state law, those funds are returned to the lottery’s prize fund.

Moreno says about one-third of the unclaimed money comes from ticket sales in the New Orleans area, so she will author a bill in the upcoming legislative session, set to begin in April, that would give the city its percentage, or about $3 million, to be used to pay for additional trooper patrols.

Moreno believes the money could be an ongoing source that could put as many as 30 troopers on patrol in the French Quarter.

Moreno’s idea comes as the state is trying to solve a giant budget shortfall.  She says she’s already contacted Gov. Jindal’s office to inform them about the upcoming bill.

But with money so tight, and schools and health care facing millions in cuts, Moreno fears it could be a battle to get the money for the patrols.

“Instead, they’ve decided maybe this pot of money could be used for something else,” Moreno said.