Arts & Entertainment, etc. and Charities and Fundraising and Gambling and Fraternal organizations and Philanthropy

Bill would loosen rules on gambling licenses

December 17, 2011

Lawmakers are preparing to file a bill that would make it easier for charities to obtain gambling licenses.

Mark Shublak, a partner at Ice Miller who represents Memphis, Tenn.-based Ducks Unlimited, said he’s crafting a bill that would allow national not-for-profits to obtain a single license and apply it to all games run by their local chapters.

Shublak said he expects Rep. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, to file the bill. He said the change would save processing time for the Indiana Gaming Commission, and it would save volunteers the hassle.

“What we’re trying to do is simplify the rules on the front end,” Shublak said. “I think simple rules will result in better compliance.”

Ducks Unlimited was fined $4,250 this year for running a raffle without a license. Shublak said DU had applied for the license, but it didn’t arrive in time for the event.

Many charities that don’t run games on an ongoing basis rake in sizable chunks of cash through one-time raffles, which tend to have a higher profit margin than pull tabs or bingo.

That includes Ducks Unlimited and similar wildlife conservation groups, which hold just one fundraiser a year, a banquet with a raffle, Shublak said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Indianapolis were among the Indianapolis charities that held raffles in the 2010 fiscal year, according to a report the Indiana Gaming Commission released last month.

Statewide, raffles attracted $65.2 million in revenue with $18.5 in net proceeds, for an average profit margin of about 28 percent.

That’s compared with margins of 4 percent on bingo and 18 percent on pull tabs, which are an instant-win game akin to scratch-off lottery tickets, the gambling commission report shows.

The Ducks Unlimited bill wouldn’t change post-event and annual financial reporting requirements, Shublak said. Organizations would also have to give the commission a 21-day notice before any event, so the new license would not be practical for weekly games.•

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