Small games bill passes Senate
State Sens. Richard A. Kasunic and Tim Solobay on Thursday voted for small games of chance reform legislation, but believe it should have gone further to protect and accommodate the interests of volunteer organizations that rely on the games to raise money in their communities.On Tuesday, the Senate amended and approved the bill by a vote of 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 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.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. Solobay claimed the officers have recently been targeting and taking overzealous enforcement actions against nonprofit organizations for harmless infractions that organizations have engaged in for decades. District attorneys and area police departments have a better understanding of a community’s needs, standards and a better handle on enforcement priorities, Solobay and Kasunic noted in a news release.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 events such as monthly drawings, Chinese auctions, night-at-the-races and coin auctions.