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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2003

Start date delayed for new bingo law

The implementation of Ohio's new law that would allow instant bingo inside veterans' posts will be delayed at least 90 days to give state officials and local groups more time to sort out the paperwork.

The changes in the law, passed late last year, were to be effective April 2.

Though it allows instant bingo games that for years have been wildly popular - but illegal - inside the posts, it also dictates most of the proceeds be returned to charity.

For veterans and fraternal organizations, 65 percent of the game profits would have to go to charity. For other charities holding instant bingo, 70 percent of the profits would go to charity.

“Some posts feel it literally gives them a license to make more money for their charities because they were following the letter of the law to begin with. They weren't holding these [illegal] games,” said Donald Lanthorn, adjutant-master of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Ohio.

Other posts, he said, believe the law will cut into their budget because, though illegal, they offered the instant bingo for years as a way to cover costs for running their post.

The law took aim at store front bingo parlors where “the money was lining the pockets of some scam artist or maybe organized crime,” said State Rep. Jon Husted (R., Kettering), who introduced it. Traditional bingo games are still allowed by some charities, such as churches.

But the law is confusing, in part, because enforcement is shifted from the Department of Public Safety to the attorney general's office. Moreover, it requires complicated paperwork from the mostly volunteer organizations, Mr. Husted said.

“We want to make sure nobody is inadvertently harmed” because they didn't have a chance to understand the change in law, Mr. Husted said.

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