Business owners discuss new gaming options

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – When Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed HB 386 into law in June, in ushered in changes to gambling and gaming laws throughout the Buckeye State.

One area of interest was the area of bingo, in particular instant bingo.

A portion of legislation made it possible for 501(3)(c) charitable organizations to apply for bingo licenses and sell instant tickets to help generate funding for their respective organizations.

For example, an entity like the Community Action Council of Belmont County can apply for a license, purchase the tickets and team up with various locations that would be tasked with selling the tickets.

An informal meeting was held Wednesday at Gasber’s Fine Day in St. Clairsville, hosted by owner Jerry Gasber, of local bar owners, as well as fraternal organization and club owners about what possibilities this legislation holds for their respective businesses.

Jody Brick from Go For Broke Amusements in Flushing was the first to speak, relaying how the majority of the cost, and the associated paperwork, falls to the charitable organizations in this partnership.

Brick explained her company is still teetering on whether it wants to act as a distributor of the instant tickets. But she was well versed on the process.

“This is a good thing for the charities,” Brick said. “It will allow the money generated to stay in the community. The legislation is designed to help many charities.”

Brick said the initial start-up paperwork can be extensive and time consuming. The onus, however, falls on the charities and not the bar/club owners, or locations, as they are called.

“The funding and licensing is with the charity, so there is really no cost for the location,” Brick said.

Brick stated the law allows for up to 6-percent of the gross profits to remain with the locations selling the tickets for administrative costs.

However, the locations must turn in expense sheets, detailing what was spent in administrating the sale.

Russ Miller from the Ohio Children’s Foundation spoke on various aspects of what is now permissable thanks to the law, including different gaming options that are available.

One such option is instant ticket dispensing machines, which run anywhere from $2,000-$4,000. The charities would be responsible for this cost if one was deemed necessary for purchase. Depending on the volume of sales at each location, these machines are a possibility.

Miller was asked about what gaming officials would be looking for, in particular, any infractions.

“They will be looking for black market tickets,” Miller said.

Miller also noted that while 6-percent of the gross profits may not seem like a great amount, the benefits are numerous because of the likely upswing in beveredge and food sales, along with overall business for locations selling the tickets vs. those that do not.

He explained that another key component is that the locations provide the charities, when asked, with an updated list of their employees who will be handling the tickets and money from sales.

Some of the owners asked how often this needed to be done, considering some locations had higher rates of turnover than the others.

Miller noted that, for example, every 3 or 4 months the charity may check in to get an updated employee list. It would remove the employees no longer working and add any additional names.

Gary Obloy from CAC of Belmont County spoke from the non-profit standpoint.

He explained the CAC of Belmont County is interested in taking advantage of this program since it is viewed as a way to help expand some of the programs CACBC administers like the summer food program.

“Right now our summer food program is offered only in Bridgeport, Bellaire and Martins Ferry and we could use this to help expand that program,” Obloy said. “Other county communities have inquired about the program and this is a way we could bring that to them.”

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