Bingo

rovidence VFW Jack McDowell Post 5484 has long been known for its charitable donations in and around Webster County, and officials are hoping they have stumbled upon a way of increasing the amount of money they can donate.

Bingo!

Starting January 7, 2019, the organization will begin weekly bingo games in the post’s event hall. The games are legal, thanks to a Kentucky Charitable Gaming License (CGL), and are open to the public. There will also be electronic and paper pull tab games available.

Under state law, non-profit organizations in the state can obtain a CGL if they have been in existence for more than one year, and have a history of charitable works or donations. The same law applies to school groups, church groups and other organizations that hold bingo, pull tabs games or raffles to raise money.

In 2017 alone, the post and its auxiliary donated over $7,500. That includes donations to the Providence Elementary School Library, the West Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson and Toys for Tots. The group also sponsored the Lady Trojans basketball program and provided over 200 flags to WCHS for a veterans appreciation night.

Post 5484 and its auxiliary began the process of obtaining a charitable gaming license in October. Fourteen volunteers from the post attended classes in Frankfort to be certified to oversee the gaming process. At least one of those certified people must be present at all times gaming is open.

The post itself will not profit from gaming. A minimum of 40 percent of all the raised must go directly to charitable giving. The other 60 percent will be used for the purchase of equipment, such as bingo cards and pull tabs. The individuals working the game are volunteers and will not be paid.

“Every dollar that comes in or goes out of here will be recorded on paper,” said Michael “Mikey” Whitfeld, one of the volunteers with the auxiliary. “There will be a lot of paperwork.”

The kinds of payouts participants can expect are unclear at the moment, although officials hope to see some as high as $1,000. That number could go even higher if there is a big turnout, as payouts are directly tied to the number of players.

“We actually received our license in November, but we didn’t want to roll this out quickly,” said Robin Harrell, the auxiliary treasurer and one of the individuals tasked with overseeing the

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program. “It takes a lot of planning. We have to set up payouts and charges.”

Officials also stress that although the VFW does intend to apply for a liquor license for its members-only club area, that will have no impact on the gaming area.

Only card carrying members are allowed into the private club area, and by law, nobody is allowed to bring alcohol outside of that area.

Under state law, participants must be at least 18 years old, although minors accompanied by a parent or legal guardian are allowed to play bingo.

Bingo will kickoff on Monday, January 7, 2019. Doors open at 3:00 p.m., with Early Bird Bingo starting at 6:30 p.m. and regular bingo getting under way at 7:00 p.m.

Reach Matt Hughes at 270-667-2068 or matt@journalenterprise.com