The County Council is set to approve a bill regulating commercial bingo, despite warnings from the county administration that changes thecouncil has made to the bill might encourage organized crime to infiltrate bingo parlors.
Council Chairman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, said he will recommend allowing a new county Amusement LicenseCommission to study the changes between the time the council approves the bill and the date the changes are implemented. The amendments, which would increase prize winnings, were added to the bill last month by council members.
"I feel comfortable with the commission looking at the amendmentsand getting back to us," Boschert said. "I don't want the bingo industry to become what it was in the past."
The bill would create theamusement commission to oversee the bingo industry.
The changes, some of which were sponsored by Boschert, would double the maximum single-game prize -- from $500 to $1,000 -- at the county's five commercial bingo parlors. The council also voted to reduce the time betweenthe games' offering a $20,000 prize, from 90 days to 60 days.
Thecounty administration also plans a presentation at tonight's meeting, but Deputy County Attorney David Plymyer declined to discuss details. At a meeting two weeks ago, Plymyer warned that the amendments could attract organized crime figures to bingo operations.
The countyrevoked bingo licenses last year for three establishments, includingBingo World in Brooklyn Park. Six reputed mobsters were indicted on charges they laundered money through Bingo World, which is operating under a court agreement.
The proposed bill strengthens the county's current regulations, which deny licenses to applicants who lack "good moral character." The bill adds specifics to that vague definition, denying licenses to owners and managers with ties to organized crime or gambling convictions and requiring them to submit to background checks.
The bill also reduces the number of bingo licenses from seven to five and restricts owners to one license each.
Anne ArundelCounty is one of the few jurisdictions in the country outside of Indian reservations that licenses commercial bingo.
In other action tonight, the County Council:
* Is expected to approve a 90-day moratorium on a new law allowing non-boating, recreational piers. Waterfront community associations protested the law, proposed by Councilwoman Diane Evans, R-Arnold, saying it would open county waterways to scores of new piers.
Evans said the groups misunderstood the law, which she said merely codified county practice. However, the councilwoman said she will meet with the groups and introduce a new bill in January.
* Conduct a hearing on a bill that would increase the time the county Board of Appeals has to make decisions in certain cases. Thebill was inspired after an all-night hearing last month on a gradingpermit for a project near Shady Side.
COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING
AGENDA: Vote on bingo reform bill.
WHEN: Tonight at 7:30
WHERE: Arundel Center, 44 Calvert St., Annapolis.