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04-10-03: Area groups yell for bingo law change
The Daily Standard

    Local veterans organizations will be able to make money from instant bingo tickets, but the amount is uncertain with legislators still discussing an amendment to new legislation on charitable gaming.
    Current law does not allow any organization to sell instant bingo tickets and other pull tab games legally unless 100 percent of the net profit goes to charity, said Dan Baker, an aide for Ohio Senator Jon Husted (R-Kettering), the legislator who proposed the new bill. But since the law was not enforced, many organizations throughout the state and locally did profit illegally from instant bingo tickets.
    "This will give veterans and charity organizations a way to do it legally," Baker said.
    Hustedıs proposal, House Bill 512, allows organizations to host the gambling activities and keep 35 percent of the gross profit and donate the rest to only 501(C)3 charities, Baker said.
    House Bill 512 was signed by Gov. Bob Taft in January and was to take effect April 2, but a 90-day moratorium was approved by legislators April 1 due a proposed amendment to the bill.
    The amendment is being pushed by two local representatives, 77th District Rep. Keith Faber (R-Celina) and 78th District Rep. Derrick Seaver (D-Minster), because several local veterans organizations said they cannot operate the charitable gaming if they are allowed to keep only 35 percent of gross profits.
    The proposed amendment would allow organizations to keep up to 70 percent of gross profits and to donate more freely to organizations not classified as 501(C)3, such as fire departments and emergency squads.
    "We are addressing four major changes to the bill," Seaver said. "They deal with the percentage and what kind of organizations can benefit from the gaming."
    "Groups such as Eagles or Moose donate to a lot of community groups," Seaver said. "The amendment allows them to continue to do that."
    The introduction of House Bill 512 was aimed at closing storefront bingo parlors that falsely claim to donate money to charity, Baker said. A storefront bingo parlor located on Logan Street in Celina closed after receiving a letter about the new legislation, said the building renter Jon Kessler of Celina.
    The bill also calls for stricter enforcement of gambling laws that sets stiff fines and jail time to violators and sets up new required licensing procedures.
    Seaver said lowering the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor is still being discussed, along with lowering licensure fees for smaller organizations. Fees are currently set at $5,000 across the board.
    "We will be discussing this and hoping to attach an amendment to the budget bill, which has to take effect by July 1," Seaver said.


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