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Government and Politics

Fraternal groups pin their hopes on state law to make gaming machines legal
Coalition turns down Lottery alternative

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
The groups have already looked at whether the machines qualify as raffles.
Courtesy of Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition
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In The Region:

Veterans posts and fraternal lodges are saying “no” to an offer of new electronic gaming machines from the Ohio Lottery. Instead, they’re hoping state lawmakers will declare machines they’ve traditionally used are legal. 

LISTEN: Fraternal groups turn down the Lottery, look to change state law

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The gaming machines at American Legion posts, VFW halls and similar organizations around the state became a problem when Ohio clamped down on storefront internet cafes earlier this year. In the process, it put many similar machines off limits as an illegal expansion of gambling.  

The Lottery then came up with a proposal to outfit the lodges with 1,200 of its next generation games. The financial details were still to be worked out, but essentially promised the organizations 25 percent of the take on each machine.

That would have cut out the role now played by the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition – which now gets the machines from a Columbus company and provides them to the posts and lodges in return, for a percentage the proceeds go to the coalition’s charities.

Bill Seagraves, who heads the coalition, says the Lottery deal would disrupt that flow.

“You’re not going to get the posts to give to charity unless it’s mandated. They’re going to keep money for their own use. Ohio Revised Code 2915 obligates them to give a percentage of their funds to charity and that wouldn’t be there with the lottery’s plan.”

Seagraves says the groups fraternal and veterans groups are pushing instead a bill that would explicitly make their machines legal and commit 50 percent of the proceeds to charity.

The bill is expected to get a hearing before an Ohio House committee the first week in December. That’s the same week the Ohio Lottery Commission was to consider the alternative.

Seagraves says some clubs have discontinued use of the terminals until this is straightened out. Others are trying to see if they fit under the state’s raffle law.

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