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Kasunic and Solobay: Small Games of Chance Law has Room for Improvement
On October 5, 2012
HARRISBURG, October 4, 2012 – State Senators Richard A. Kasunic and Tim Solobay today said they voted for the small games of chance reform legislation (Senate Bill 444), but believe it should have gone further to protect and accommodate the interests of volunteer organizations that rely on the games to raise funds in their communities.
On Tuesday, the Senate amended and approved the bill, 46 to 3. The measure now goes to the House for consideration.
“This amended bill is an improvement, but it should have included more common sense changes aimed at simplifying the law and protecting community groups from overzealous enforcement actions,” Kasunic said.
Solobay added, “While the bill is a step in the right direction, there is still too much confusion over what is allowable and how the law is being enforced.”
The Senate amended the bill this week to allow 50/50 drawings to the list of small games of chance permitted around the state.
Despite attempts by Solobay and Kasunic to waive the onerous annual reporting and background check requirements for charitable organizations and their volunteer workers with small games proceeds of $100,000 or less, majority Republicans set the limit at $2,500.
Kasunic and Solobay prepared several additional amendments that were rejected, but did garner a heated discussion and a potential to look more fully at the law when the General Assembly convenes in January.
Among the amendments offered was a proposal that would give small games of chance enforcement authority to local police officers rather than state liquor enforcement officers (LEO’s). Solobay said LEO’s have recently been targeting and taking overzealous enforcement actions against nonprofit organizations for harmless infractions that organizations have engaged in for decades. They added that district attorneys and area police departments have a better understanding of a community’s needs, standards – and a better handle on appropriate enforcement priorities.
Calling them amendments that would legitimize practices that most people already assumed were legal, Kasunic wanted to allow raffle tickets to be sold outside of the county of where an organization is located, enable non-organization members to sell tickets, and allow organizations to use a greater share of their small games of chance proceeds for operational expenses.
Both lawmakers called for permitting monthly drawings, Chinese auctions, night at the races, coin auctions and other events and games that organizations have hosted for years