Changes to the state Small Games of Chance laws have raised many questions, and local seminars are attempting to answer them and help clear up confusion.
About 210 people attended a Small Games of Chance seminar at the St. Rose of Lima School Hall, 5519 Sixth Ave., last week. Another seminar will take place at the Smithfield Township Fire Hall, Huntingdon, 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, said his office was receiving a lot of questions on the topic.
Mirror photo by Amanda Gabeletto
Swiss Club President Bill Frank shows a pull tab machine used at the club.
Eichelberger and the Blair County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the seminar. Eichelberger, Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon, and the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the upcoming seminar.
State police Sgt. James A. Jones Jr., who gave the Altoona seminar presentation, said throughout the state those happy with the changes brought about with Act 2 of 2012, which was signed into law Feb. 2, and Act 184, which was signed into law Oct. 25, are about equal to those who are not.
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Pennsylvania Federation of Clubs lobbied for years to make the changes through the acts, Eichelberger said.
If you go
A Small Games of Chance seminar is scheduled to take place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Smithfield Township Fire Hall, 10 Firehouse Lane, Huntingdon. The seminar is free and open to the public. To register or for more information, call the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce at 643-1110.
Jones, who transferred to the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement in 2003, said 10 years ago he was just as confused as others about the rules and regulations involving small games of chance.
To get charged criminally for a violation is difficult, Jones said. They realize the confusion associated with it.
Under Act 2, club licensees can now use 30 percent of small fames of chance proceeds for certain operational expenses, and 70 percent must go to the public interest such as through charitable donations and community projects.
Before that, licensed organizations didn't have to set aside any money, Eichelberger said.
Organizations must have the 70/30 ratio in place at the end of the year to be in compliance, Jones said.
Changes also include, the addition of 50/50 drawings as part of the legal games offered in Pennsylvania. Others permitted are punchboards, pull tabs, raffles and daily and weekly drawings.
Unlawful gambling activities in Pennsylvania include Texas Hold 'em tournaments, video poker or slots and pools on sports games.
No new written record keeping is required, but reporting requirements were added under Act 2, Jones said.
Another change is to keep proceeds defined as net profits in a separate bank account.
It can be a savings account attached to a checking account, Jones said.
Jones advised the seminar attendees that when it came to small games of chance to have checks and balances in place, and several people involved.
Jackie Jenkins, a manager of a club in Mahaffey, Clearfield County, said she and the club's accountant attended the seminar to make sure they were handling their small games of chance correctly and their bookkeeping was up to par.
Jenkins said she has heard rumors as to what they are required to do, but they want to be clear. She was glad they attended, she said.
Swiss Club President Bill Frank said changes to the law are creating more paperwork.
He heard of a couple clubs who are considering just doing away with their small games of chance, but the Swiss Club will keep its for a year to see how it goes, he said.
It often donates proceeds to charities such as for Multiple Sclerosis and Toys for Tots, he said.
He said the club's treasurer, Ron Ferguson, keeps excellent books.
"We try to err on the side of the law," he said. "We just try to do what's right, nothing fishy."
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.