Groups defend some gambling

November 24, 1992|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

Carroll Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy and Sheriff John Brown sat impassively last night at the Westminster Moose Lodge listening to reasons why the county commissioners ought to support the effort to have video poker machines legalized.

Representatives of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Moose and Elks urged the commissioners to ask the county's General Assembly delegation to introduce legislation next year making the machines legal.

Daniel Green, a Westminster attorney who represents the groups, said, "Many organizations use punch cards, tip jars and gaming machines to pay their bills and certain current gaming laws have been violated. However, they have not been prosecuted because of their charitable contributions."

Reading from a letter from State's Attorney Tom Hickman, who was not present, Mr. Green said, "We are patriotic members of mainstream organizations that operate on a non-profit basis. We are conservative. We are your friends and neighbors."

Mr. Green concluded by saying, "We recognize that gambling has been going on and it should be placed under county supervision."

The groups use the machines to raise money for their organizations as well as charity. The machines, which pay cash prizes, are illegal in Maryland.

To solicit support, Mr. Green advocates that 10 percent of the profits be donated to Carroll County; another 10 percent will go to the state amusement tax.

The remaining money would be divided between maintenance for the machines, the host organization and charity.

"Let's spend it here, rather than there," said Mr. Green of legal gambling in Frederick County.

Under the plan, each organization would be able to operate five draw poker machines.

Internal security would be maintained through audits and computer records to eliminate tampering and racketeering.

"Because Carroll County is a unique conservative stronghold, with conservative churches," said Mr. Green, "we are asking that what goes on is made legal, that clubs are not raided and machines seized."

Estimates place charitable contributions at $500,000 to $1 million annually in Maryland, he said.

Les Lambert, of Advent Tech, demonstrated how the Golden Dust Draw Poker machine worked. He pointed out its security measures and stated that it was currently undergoing testing by a gaming machine laboratory before being licensed for operation in Louisiana.

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