Small games bill addresses vets concern
BY ROBERT SWIFT
HARRISBURG - Veterans groups can use small games' proceeds to directly help individual veterans with economic and social aid under a rewrite of the small games of chance law awaiting the governor's expected signature.
This issue was raised by Russell Canevari, of Jessup, state commander of the Pennsylvania Department of Veterans of Foreign Affairs, recently at a Capitol rally. He said his local VFW Post 5544 ran into legal hurdles when it tried to help local wounded combat veterans.
The legislation enables posts to donate to a veteran or other individuals in need, said John Getz, state adjutant of the Pennsylvania VFW.
This is done by expanding the definition of "public interest purpose" for a veterans' group like the VFW and American Legion or affiliated club to cover charitable goals which can include activities to support or honor veterans. This can include giving scholarships.
The rewrite bill marks an effort by lawmakers to respond to complaints by nonprofit groups about a 2012 state law to update state oversight of small games. Many groups had said new record-keeping requirements would prove too burdensome to comply with.
Rep. Tina Pickett, R-110, Towanda, was involved in negotiations over the rewrite bill in her role as chairwoman until recently of the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
"Our intent with these bills is to ensure the right balance between accountability and regulation and that every dollar raised through these small games of chance is being used for those worthy (charitable) activities," she said.
Key provisions specify that nonprofits can legally hold Race Night games, raffles and Chinese auctions.
On the regulatory end, the bill increases the threshold from $100 to $600 for which a nonprofit must record the name and address of a prize winner and a receipt given to the winner; removes reporting requirements for groups without a liquor license and exempt groups that generate less than $40,000 in proceeds from small games from a requirement to have a separate bank account.
This is a companion piece to a bill allowing taverns to offer several small games that also awaits Gov. Tom Corbett's expected signature.
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