Amendment P would move the licensing administration and enforcement of Colorados bingo and raffle laws from the secretary of states office to the Department of Revenue. The result would be that oversight of all nonprofits bingo and raffle programs and proceeds would shift from compliance investigators to badge-carrying, armed enforcement officers with arrest powers.
That may not seem like that big a deal, but the Department of Revenue also would raise the licensing fees, possibly to the tune of 40 percent more than nonprofits now are paying. A 40 percent increase would ruin bingo in Durango at the two places that provide this entertainment for our community, the American Legion and St. Columba Catholic Church. This increase in fees paid to the state would mean that there would be less of our profits returned to the community.
Since 1958, Colorados Constitution placed the licensing and regulation of bingo and raffle gaming with the secretary of state, an elected office. The Department of Revenue is appointed by the governor. Its focus includes investigating and enforcing criminal laws associated with the lottery and the professional gaming industry not nonprofit charitable organizations.
The Department of Revenue is charged with raising money for the state and can impose additional fees of up to 40 percent of annual gross proceeds on the professional gaming industry. At present, these fees have been capped at 20 percent. The secretary of state can charge only necessary fees to administer the law.
Bingo money is raised at home and stays at home to maintain the beneficial work that qualify the nonprofits for their federal and state tax exemptions. Bingo is less gambling than a social gathering. Players often come in small groups, sit across from each other and visit with friends and neighbors. The likelihood of losing or winning fortunes is extremely remote.
Vote no on Amendment P. Money raised at bingo goes back to our community to help with programs that keep our kids safe and feed our seniors. We hold bingo nights to help our community, not to feed the state coffers.
Donna Byers-Hardin, Durango