County officials have proposed a bill they hope would prevent organized crime from infiltrating commercial bingo operations.
A task force appointed by County Executive Robert R. Neall is reviewing the bill, which was drafted by Deputy County Attorney David Plymyer on the committee's recommendation.
The task force hopes to submit the bill to the County Council in September, said Anne Hatcher, license administrator for the county Department of Inspections and Permits and a committee member.
"We'retrying to comply with what the county executive wanted, which was toreview the existing regulations and come up with something a little more substantial," Hatcher said.
A year ago, the county revoked licenses for three establishments, including Bingo World on Belle GroveRoad in Brooklyn Park, when officials found that Stephen B. Paskind of Florida, who held those licenses, associated with organized crime figures at a bingo hall he owns in Florida.
Last October, six reputed mobsters were indicted on charges they laundered money through Bingo World, supplying Paskind with more than $1 million. Paskind was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
Bingo World is operating under a court consent decree, after Paskind appealed the revocations. His other two licenses are tied up in court and not in use,Hatcher said.
Paskind's licenses were revoked on grounds that he lacked "good moral character." The proposed legislation would add standards to that vague definition, denying licenses to owners and managers of bingo operations who:
* Have been convicted of "acts involving moral turpitude, including any violation of federal, state or local law or regulation."
* Have had a judgment against them in a case of fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
* Have associations or financial relationships with "individuals known to have engaged in organized crime or racketeering."
* Have managed or supervised "a gambling enterprise in which there was a demonstrable pattern of cheating, fraud or employee dishonesty."
Anne Arundel County is one of thefew jurisdictions in the country to license commercial bingo operations, outside of Indian reservations.
The committee is made up of county officials, bingo industry representatives and citizens. The group had hoped to complete its work by July 1, when licenses are renewed. The County Council recently extended the licenses until the end ofthe year, when the new regulations are expected to be in place.
The proposed legislation would reduce the number of commercial bingo licenses in the county from seven to five; no one would be allowed to own more than one license.
Wayson's Bingo in Lothian, Daily Doublein Laurel and Bingo Palace in Gambrills all hold active licenses. Casino Bingo in Annapolis got its license back two weeks ago, after an owner, whom county officials thought lacked "good moral character," sold his share in the company.
The bill would give county officialsmore authority to monitor bingo operations, allowing audits on 10 days' notice. The bill also would increase the amount of prizes offered.