A proposal tp allow charities to pay people to run bingo, poker and other gambling games is too touchy of an issue to tackle this session, Indiana Senate Public Policy Chairman Ron Alting said Friday morning.
Members of fraternal clubs have complained to Alting that it’s difficult to round up volunteers to run their games, and the Republican from Lafayette had hoped to advance legislation on the matter this session. Instead, he’ll request a summer study committee.
“We really need to make sure we’re not opening a bucket of worms for professional gaming,” Alting said.
The Indiana Gaming Commission has cracked down on clubs that violated the rules against paying bingo callers and dealers.
An American Legion post in New Haven, near Fort Wayne, was accused last year of paying its bingo managers close to $1 million over several years. Five people faced criminal charges after a gambling commission sting caught a 71-year-old woman ferrying envelopes full of cash from Post 330 to a local restaurant, The Journal Gazette reported in September.
The gambling commission has fined two other clubs, the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie No. 2455 in Albion and the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge No. 281 in Vincennes, for paying people to work events.
Two less controversial bills on charity gaming are making their way through the Legislature. Sen. Randy Head authored a bill that would allow national organizations with Indiana affiliates to obtain a single license that could be applied to multiple games, such as raffles. That bill is now with the House Public Policy Committee.
Rep. Bob Cherry proposed allowing poker-night patrons to deal, as long as they don’t play that round. Oftentimes, clubs advertise poker nights, but they don’t know whether they’ll have 20 people or 50 people show up, Cherry said.
“If they’re short on people to deal, it allows patrons to deal,” he said. Charity poker games would still require separate, volunteer dealers for the final round of the night, but they wouldn’t have to be present the entire time, he said.
Cherry’s bill passed the House and will be taken up by the Senate Public Policy Committee on Monday, Alting said.