Southwestern Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday said help is on the way for beleaguered veterans’ groups, fire companies, fraternal organizations and small clubs "victimized" by changes to the rules governing small games of chance.
“I urge the state Senate to move with utmost urgency on this legislation so we don’t lose any more groups that have long histories of benefitting our communities,” said state Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-North Strabane. “It was a great bipartisan effort to help our veterans groups, nonprofits and clubs to be able to remain open and help our community.”
State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, also lauded the new bill.
“The changes made to small games of chance last year had real repercussions on our towns and communities,” White said. “The measure we approved makes realistic and beneficial changes that will enable organizations to keep their doors open and continue benefitting all of us.”
Provisions of H.B. 290, approved on a 186-10 vote, would:
● Clarify that organizations operating solely in the public interest can retain proceeds for their charitable purposes.
● Enable organizations making less than $40,000 from small games of chance to retain the money for operating expenses.
● Permit organizations to use 30 percent of game proceeds for operating expenses once the $40,000 benchmark is eclipsed.
● Exempt groups making less than $40,000 a year from annual reporting mandates, background checks and separate bank accounts for game proceeds.
● Allow "Night at the Races," poker runs and other games.
● Clarify that the state police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement does not have enforcement powers over small games of chance violations for organizations with just a special occasion permit.
● Permit social card games and tourneys, including Texas Hold 'em tournaments.
● Increase prize limits for small games of chance.
● Allow groups to conduct games of chance at another organization’s licensed premise.