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|04-10-03: Area groups yell for bingo law change
|By LANCE MIHM
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
"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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