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Pickett Advances Small Games of Chance Clarification Bill
HARRISBURG – Seeking to make state law better for organizations that have small games of chance licenses, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) this week led the House Gaming Oversight Committee in supporting new legislation to make further updates to the Small Games of Chance Act.

“Organizations that operate small games of chance rely on fundraisers to keep their doors open and to continue their valuable contributions to our community,” said Pickett, chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee. “While many of the updates we passed last session overall sought to benefit these organizations by allowing them to increase their prize limits, it did raise some concerns and highlighted the need to make additional modifications.”

The committee unanimously reported out House Bill 290, which Pickett also co-sponsored, that will help nonprofit organizations and charities with further clarification in the state’s Small Games of Chance Act.

Among its provisions, the proposal would make a number of clarifications, including the definition of a “public interest” purpose. This would make it clear in state law that an entity operating solely in the public interest – such as a volunteer fire company – has the ability to retain the money for its own charitable purposes.

The legislation also calls for the addition of several new games, such as Chinese auctions and Night at the Races events, and would permit the state Department of Revenue to approve new small games of chance through the regulatory process.

Another change would allow for two licenses based on an organization’s annual proceeds – a $25 fee for less than $40,000 annually in small games revenue (which would also exempt them from reporting, background and separate bank account requirements) and a $100 fee for raising more than $40,000 annually.

The new legislation also would permit club licensees -- those organizations with a liquor license -- to retain the first $40,000 in small games of chance proceeds for their own use. Once the $40,000 has been retained by the organization, the current 70 percent/30 percent split of proceeds between public interest purposes and general operating expenses would begin.

Also, organizations would now have 12 months to spend the proceeds on public interest projects, rather than the calendar year.

Other changes include: 
  • Clarifying that Liquor Control Enforcement (LCE) does not have enforcement powers over small games of chance violations with organizations that solely have a special occasion permit under the Liquor Code. LCE would still retain enforcement power over any Liquor Code violations of these organizations.
  • Increasing from $100 to $600 the requirement that an organization must record the name and address of a winner. This would align with the $600 federal requirement for the organization and winner to report to the IRS.
  • Eliminating the requirement that an organization must obtain receipts for all donated items. 
  • Permitting an organization with a license to hold its games at another organization’s licensed location and allowing both organizations to operate games at the same time. This would help organizations that do not have their own locations.
  • Requiring annual reporting forms to be available in a paper format that can be filed by mail, instead of only online options.

“The nonprofit organization and charities in our communities do a tremendous job in raising funds for a wide variety of projects that benefit us all, and this legislation is just another way we’re trying to assist them in their charitable endeavors,” Pickett said.

The legislation now heads to the full House for consideration.

Representative Tina Pickett
110th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
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