The 2020 legislative session will set the course for the expansion of gambling for many years to come.
The Virginia General Assembly must decide how to best manage the growth of gaming to benefit the entire Commonwealth.
As gambling expands in Virginia, legislators should protect charities that utilize the Commonwealth’s charitable gaming regulatory framework to raise revenue that supports charitable programs and provides a societal benefit.
We hope legislators will consider the following principles:
Regulated charitable gaming is used in throughout Virginia by registered tax-exempt organizations such as veterans’ groups, service organizations, volunteer fire departments, local and state police associations, youth sports and many other charities to raise funds for charitable programing that serve communities throughout the Commonwealth. In general terms, charitable gaming is usually low stakes and involves games such as licensed bingo, raffles, electronic pull tabs and their like. These games are “games of chance” and entertainment-focused with, in the case of bingo, groups of people coming together socially to play.
Charitable organizations in Virginia can only raise funds to support their programs through three main avenues;
Charitable gaming was approved by the Virginia General Assembly decades ago and is overseen by the Charitable Gaming Board and the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Organizations must first seek licensure by the Commonwealth, which has a formalized regulatory framework in place to restrict the types of games allowed, the frequency of play and the value of prizes that can be offered. These regulations ensure that the gaming is conducted fairly and that the profits are appropriately used by the charities.
Proceeds have funded hundreds of organizations and programs including the Massey Cancer Center, assistance to veterans and their families, Wounded Warrior programs, local food drives, support for the sick and homebound, local baseball and softball teams, purchasing bulletproof vests for local police, funding for volunteer fire departments, after-school programs and many others.
Virginia’s charitable gaming laws are antiquated and have not been updated in many years. Licensees are hamstrung by an outdated regulatory system enforcing overly restrictive operating restrictions.
Due to the lack of modernization of state law, charitable organizations are unable to adapt to current market forces, causing a drastic drop in their revenues, leaving them unable to fund many important charitable programs serving Virginians throughout the Commonwealth. The expansion of other forms of gambling, some of it unauthorized, as further hurt revenue from charitable gaming. Without a substantial update of charitable gaming laws, charities are at risk of having to severely cutback charitable initiatives.
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