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02-20-04: Local clubs push for changes in gaming law


MINSTER — Local veteran and fraternal clubs are among those pushing for a new bill governing charitable gaming being proposed in the Ohio House of Representatives.
The proposed bill would allow veteran and fraternal clubs to designate more of their money to charities, among other changes.
Speaking to Minster Eagles members Thursday, 77th District State Representative Keith Faber (R-Celina) vowed to help them fight to make changes to the current gaming law.
The local club efforts are getting noticed, Faber said, and urged members to keep pushing for adjustments to the charitable gaming laws in the state.
“You have been successful in getting this topic to the next level,” Faber said. “There is no other group of clubs that has banded together like this grassroots movement.”
The current gaming legislation was signed into law in 2003 in an attempt to close store front bingo parlors masking as charitable organizations but run for profit.
Before the 2003 legislation, clubs held gambling events and donated money to charities of their choice. The new legislation limited clubs to operating up to 10 hours a day six days a week, and 50 percent of the money must go to 501(c)(3) designated charities. Five percent was allowed for expenses and the remaining 45 percent was allowed for the clubs’ own designated use.
Faber said the bill being proposed would allow sales 12 hours a day seven days a week, allow short-term licenses for charitable gaming, reduce licensing fees, reduce penalties from a felony to a misdemeanor and change the definition of expenses to allow for more items to be paid out of the club’s 5 percent.
“Unfortunately when you pass laws there are always unintended consequences,” Faber said. “That is what happened with the legislation on the gaming bill. This has been the largest issue my office has worked on in the last year. Our ultimate goal is to allow the clubs to keep 100 percent and we will keep working on it.”
Wapakoneta resident Mo Fisher organized local clubs and since then over 50 clubs have joined together. Among them are Knights of Columbus, Eagles, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Amvets, Grand Lake Sports Club, American Legion and Elks groups in Auglaize, Mercer, Allen, Miami, Henry, Van Wert, Darke, Shelby and other counties.
The organization’s constant pressure on state legislators has forced lawmakers to look again at the new regulations, Faber said.
Fisher urged all members to call legislators often and urge them to pass the new legislation without making changes.
“The attorney general’s office is starting to loosen up,” Fisher said. “I think they are finally starting to get the message that we need help. We need to get people voting for the legislators that are going to support us and we are going to make a list of the ones that are supporting us.”
The gaming legislation has caused financial problems for several clubs. Locally, the American Legion in Celina was forced to close for three weeks during the summer of 2003 and the Amvets in St. Marys has closed its doors.


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