Small Games of Chance Reforms Stalled in
House of Representatives
25, 2013 – Howard Ondick
HARRISBURG- Although disappointed that the state
House of Representatives declined to approve two small games of chance bills
this week, a Washington County lawmaker remains optimistic the legislation will
come up for a vote next month.
“While this legislation isn’t everything we
wanted, it would help remove many of the unnecessary hassles and impediments
that local volunteer organizations face,” Senator Solobay said.
House Bill 290 and House Bill 1098 would
update and simplify the state’s small games law to ensure that local volunteer
organizations such as fire departments, veterans’ organizations and local
civic, social, religious and charitable groups can continue to thrive and do
charitable work in their communities.
Solobay and Senator Richard Kasunic of Fayette County each introduced changes
to the current Small Games of Chance Law, saying they acted after numerous
non-profit organizations and volunteer fire departments contacted them and
raised concerns last year. The lawmakers agreed that the current law is
confusing, makes commonly acceptable fundraising practices illegal, and hampers
an organization’s ability to attract volunteers and raise funds. Many of their suggestions were included in
the two House bills.
omnibus legislation would, among other things, eliminate the reporting
requirements for volunteer organizations without a liquor license. For those
with a liquor license that raise less than $30,000 per year from small games,
there would be no reporting requirement; add raffle auctions, more commonly
known as bashes or Chinese auctions, and night at the races to the list of
allowable games. The measure would also authorize small betting pools such as
those typically associated with the NCAA basketball tournament or Super Bowl;
change the revenue split from 70 percent for charity and 30 percent for the
club’s operational expenses, to 60 percent for charity and 40 percent for the
HB 1098 would also allow taverns, restaurants,
hotels and golf clubs to sell small games of chance on a limited basis with 60%
of the revenue going to the state and 40% to the business. The business must donate half of its revenue
to charity or community organizations,
however, some members of the House of Representatives objected to this
provision, resulting in a vote on both bills being put off at least until the
House returns to session in November.