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04-12-03: Gaming bill Charitable gaming supporters pushing for changes in bill
The Daily Standard

    ST. MARYS - The Wapakoneta Eagles Lodge hosted a meeting Thursday for a growing group of local fraternal organizations pushing legislators to make changes in a new law that governs charitable gaming.
    The law was signed by Taft in January and was to take effect April 2. A moratorium postponing the effective date of the law until July was approved in March after an amendment was proposed to make several changes to the original legislation.
    The proposed amendment was expected to be attached to the state budget bill up for approval, but was pulled Wednesday so further changes could be discussed.
    "The (proposed amendment) was pulled, but for good reasons," said Mo Fisher, a past state Eagles Lodge president, who is coordinating efforts to have changes made to the original legislation.
    Fisher said legislators are still discussing the charitable gaming licensing fee. With the new legislation, all clubs will be required to pay a $5,000 licensing fee.
    "They are working to lower that for smaller clubs," Fisher said. "They are discussing making it a percentage of profits. There are some small clubs that could not pay $5,000."
    Other details being discussed, according to Fisher, are allowing gaming to go on for seven days,14 hours per day, instead five days, eight hours per day, and being allowed to operate gaming while holding a liquor license.
    Fisher initially began working with the Wapakoneta Eagles Lodge in trying to change the legislation. Since then, more than 30 clubs have banded together representing Knights of Columbus, Eagles, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Amvets, Grand Lake Sports Club, American Legion and Elks groups in Auglaize, Mercer, Allen, Miami and Shelby counties.
    Current law says organizations can not host charitable gaming unless 100 percent of net profits are given to charity. The new legislation says 70 percent of gross profits must go to 501(C)3 charitable organizations, and 30 percent can be kept, but many organizations do not like this regulation.
    The coalition is pushing for changes that would allow groups to keep 70 percent of gross profit and donate the rest. It is also being asked that some of the money be permitted to be given to groups that are not 501(C)3, such as youth sports organizations and fire departments.
    The new legislation originally was proposed by Ohio Sen. John Husted (R-Kettering) last year. Husted proposed the bill so community organizations such as Eagles or Amvets could legally continue offering instant bingo.
    The coalition plans to meet again May 1 at the Minster Eagles Lodge. Ohio Rep. Derrick Seaver (D-Minster), who has been a strong proponent for changes to the new law, will be in attendance and available to answer questions.


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