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From the Desk of County Commissioner
 Randy Phiel

(10/2012) In Pennsylvania, if you belong to a club or organization that depends on small games of chance for survival your world changed dramatically on March 3rd. What was hoped to be an amended law by the Pennsylvania Legislature that helped veterans clubs, fire companies and other non-profits create more revenue; has done just the opposite in terms of the organizations survival. . Many local clubs are now on red alert predicting their demise within the next year if the legislation is not amended soon! Under Act 2 of 2012 the organizations were allowed to keep more revenue due to the new law; tougher accounting, auditing and reporting standards were also part of the new legislation. 70% of the proceeds must go to a public interest or charity. Although the clubs are allowed to keep 30% of the proceeds, making matters more difficult is that the organizations are not allowed to use the 30% for things like labor, cost of products and utilities. Many are in the frustrating situation of simply having money sitting there to give away to local charities - but not enough income to run the business that generates the contributions.

As the County Treasurer's Office is the agent to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that issues various licenses and permits including raffles, bingo and small games of chance, I have asked Adams County Treasurer Terry Adamik to convey her perspective on the issue.

Comments by Adams County Treasurer Terry Adamik as follows: On March 3rd of this year the first major update to the Small Games of Chance law, since its inception, became effective. This has opened a Pandoraís box of issues for Adams County organizations who have been using SGOC to raise funds to make ends meet for many years.

Some of the new requirements of the law include the need for State Police certified background check of the organizationís executive officer and secretary in order to obtain a license and, at minimum, annual financial reporting of the SGOC operation to the PA Department of Revenue. Each organization will also need to open a separate bank account to deposit and expend the gaming proceeds.

One area that has not changed but has been misunderstood for many years is the use of rolled tear-off tickets with sequential numbering commonly known as "50/50". It is an illegal practice using these mass produced tickets, however a "50/50" drawing can be a legal small game of chance if the organizations follow the defining rules for a "raffle".

The definition a raffle ticket is: "Tickets must have a detachable stub, be consecutively numbered and be accounted for separately through the use of a logbook showing to whom the tickets were given to be sold. The ticket stub shall bear a duplicate number corresponding to the numbers on the ticket and contain the purchaserís name, address and telephone number. Both parts shall be imprinted with sequential numbers commencing with "1" through the maximum number of tickets to be sold; or in the case of a raffle where the winner is determined by a drawing of the State Lottery, the universe of eligible ticket numbers shall correspond to the universe of eligible numbers in the State Lottery drawing. The ticket shall contain the date, time and location of the drawing, the name of the licensee and license number (special permit number where applicable), price of the ticket and prizes to be awarded."

When listing the "prize to be awarded", print "50% of total pot" and then it will be considered a legal SGOC according to the Liquor Control Enforcement division of the PA State Police.

It has been a trying time for the Treasurerís office and the applying organizations; and it may become even more trying if Senate Bill 444 becomes law as it is perched to pass when the state legislature comes back into session.

There is no doubt there have been reporting and fund abuses in the past. But no one wants to see our local Legions, VFW's, Amvets, fraternal organizations, volunteer fire companies and other non-profit organizations shut their doors. Urge you state legislators to tweak this legislation expeditiously so that it makes sense and the doors of these local institutions that provide both a social retreat for many of our veterans and also provide many services to our community keep their doors open.

It is Fall in Adams County and what a great time of year it is! Get out there and enjoy all the historic, natural, recreational and cultural opportunities our beautiful county has to offer.

Read other articles from Adams County Commissioners