For some strange reason perfectly harmless bingo games are being shut down in several states. In Alabama Attorney General and anti-gambling extremist Luther Strange has been battling the ‘evils’ of electronic bingo for about four years. In Bald Knob Arkansas a tiny minority of religious extremists managed to get a senior citizens bingo game shut down. Testimony from anti-bingo religious groups at the Bald Knob city council meeting betrayed an appalling lack of knowledge of the separation of church and state. In Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has been waging his own war against bingo.
In Springfield Ohio the Union Club is an 80 year old social-charitable organization. On February 6th attorney general DeWine shut down the club’s bingo games and ordered the organization’s governing board replaced because of gambling law violations. DeWine said a settlement was reached between the attorney general’s office and the Union Club after an intensive investigation that was a total waste of taxpayer funds. DeWine said that mistakes made by the Union Club were probably “not intentional.” DeWine also said “We expect the state law to be followed.”
The Union Club was founded in 1933 and has about 5,000 members and has about $4.6 million in assets. Records kept by the state showed the club had the state’s third-highest profit bingo operation in 2012. The club took in $3.1 million and made a profit of $665,132. Problems at the club began in 2008-09 when the club made a profit from its bingo games but failed to provide the scholarships it was required to fund under Ohio’s charitable gaming laws. DeWine’s investigators also found that the club was paying bingo workers in cash and was also using electronic gaming devices. Both are violations of the state’s charitable gaming laws.
Investigators also found more serious issues. Investigators said that the club did not track large amounts of money that was spent and refused to provide financial information to some members and did not file tax forms for employees. DeWine said he does not believe the club intended to break the law and said “We want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Our whole idea is not to come down hard on a group like the Union Club that’s been there for a long time and they’ve been helping the community.”