This letter to the editor to the Columbus Dispatch should be closely heeded. If it is true that the state of Ohio only allows charities to conduct lotteries 3 days a week, then the Supreme Court may be the only way to prohibit such an unjust wielding of state power. Also opening casinos all over the place not only tends to shut down charitable bingo games but potentially creates the preconditions for dementia and Alzheimer’s. A careful reading of this very well written letter should convince any denizen of the great state of Ohio that the state government is squeezing the life blood out of charitable enterprises.
State may put charities out of business
Is the state of Ohio intentionally seeking to eliminate charities such as veterans organizations, animal-rescue shelters, training for guide dogs, high-school boosters and churches?
First, the state issued the bingo instant lottery ticket, which broke most of the bingo laws. The state is allowed to play its lottery bingo game seven days a week; charities are limited to three times a week. The state pays people to sell the bingo lottery ticket; charities must rely on volunteers.
The state can pay out any amount it wants; charities are limited to $6,000 a night.
Then, the state allowed sweepstakes cafés to open. They work much like the instant bingo tickets that charities sell, which the state makes charities buy a very expensive license to sell.
Last year, a law was introduced to make sure that the cafés are being run honestly. The bill has gone nowhere; meanwhile charities across the state are closing, as their bingo games cannot compete against gambling establishments that the state allows to operate outside the law.
Finally, four casinos are about to open. Reputable studies have proved that up to 80 percent of all charitable bingo games close where casinos open, and that 75 percent of those charities fail soon afterward.
Many people, including me, let the governor’s office and the legislature know these facts, but it made no difference. The state decided that the money from the casinos was more important than helping veterans, sight-impaired people, dogs, cats and churches (some of which run food pantries).
Recently, it has been announced that the state lottery is putting video lottery terminals in horse-racing tracks and will split the profits with the tracks. There is no way that charitable bingos can compete against this latest assault from the state. Instead of closing 75 to 80 percent of charities, this will guarantee that they all will close.
What are these charities supposed to do now? Where is the money going to come from to help the veterans, the disabled, the poor, the animals, etc.? Will the state make up the difference? No, and there is no way that the state will support churches.
So charities will close, and those in need either will go without help or the state will have to go deeper into to debt to do the work that charities once did.
How about this solution: Let charitable bingo games have video lottery terminals, sell lottery tickets and have lottery keno. At least that way, we will finally have a fair chance to compete, and the state of Ohio can show that it cares about charities, rather than the current message that it does not want individuals helping each other but instead wants all the power in the hands of the government.(good luck, but I doubt state government will back this)
REV. JOSEPH J. MAURIELLO