Tighter Grip On Charitable Gaming Could Hurt Charities

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

In terms of community projects, the Haslett library is a crown jewel for the local Kiwanis club and member Andy Such.

"We helped move the library," he said. "The community raised $100,000 and we contributed $20,000."

Believe it or not, a lot of that money came from charity poker events, known as 'millionaire parties', which are the main source of income for Haslett Kiwanis and thousands of similar charity organizations across the state.

With the release of regulation updates from the Michigan Gaming Control Board, this week, Such, also a member of the Michigan Charitable Gaming Association says the effect could be devastating.

"I think it's going to have a real effect on how much money we can put back in the community," he said.

The updates include limiting the number of events at one location to three per day, a mandatory midnight closing time and a $15,000 per day cap on chips issued.

Richard Kalm says the regulations are in response to more than 300 violations of the Bingo Act and other state laws found during a recent inspection of 900 events.

"What was sent out is an attempt to align what was actually occurring in those gaming operations to what's allowable to the act and the rules," Kalm, Executive Director of Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Heather Schuchaskie supplies events at Trippers in Lansing. She says some of the updates, including those affecting chip limits and operating times contradict state laws and will result in loss of business and money for charities.

"We're supposed to be finished at midnight, which means we have to be closed down at 11 p.m.," Schuchaskie, Owner of Aces Gaming Supply and board member of the Michigan Charitable Gaming Association. "Players who are coming and arrive at 10 p.m. just aren't going to come."

Kalm says the enforcement is necessary to limit violations, crime and other issues that hinder fundraising.

"I'm concerned there will be serious issues of whether this industry will survive," he said.

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