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COLUMBUS, OH -- The American Legion and the U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars are informally lobbying the Ohio state Legislature for permission to operate electronic bingo machines to support their nonprofit organizations.
According to local press reports, the organizations have told lawmakers that without electronic bingo, their fundraising revenues will be drained away to newly legalized casinos, expected to begin construction next year in the Buckeye State.
No specific bill has been introduced to legalize electronic bingo. Supporters said they hoped a pro-bingo amendment would be inserted into unrelated legislation during the state legislature's lame-duck session this month. If not, a dedicated bill could be proposed next year, VFW and Legion spokesmen said. The Ohio Veterans of Foreign Wars said lawmakers have expressed no opposition to the idea.
Ohio's charitable bingo halls generated $142.2 million in revenues last year, a 28% decline from their 2006 earnings of $196.7 million. Smoking bans contributed to the decline, experts said.
Ohio operators are restricted to awarding merchandise prizes of $10 in value or less to winners of skill-based games. The limit was upheld by a state Supreme Court ruling on Oct. 12.