Frustration grows over bingo deadlock
The threat escalates what has been an already nasty political battle in the Capitol between charities and gaming tribes over the types of bingo games that nonprofits can offer.
Frustration over the deadlock grew this week, with charities accusing tribes of undermining legislation that would allow nonprofits to offer a new paper bingo game that connects games statewide in real-time video. “Remote caller bingo” would increase interest, build larger jackpots and pump more money into nonprofit causes, supporters say.
“We are ready to go into a boycott,” said the Rev. Joseph Shea, pastor of St. Rose of Lima, a 5,000-member Catholic church in Simi Valley. “We call this a need vs. greed issue.”
“I don't know why they feel some ante needs to be upped,” said Alison Harvey, executive director of the California Tribal Business Alliance. “We're still talking about this and they sound like they've thrown in the towel.”
Tribes are interested in containing nontribal bingo, not eliminating it, she said. Tribes are willing to concede to some growth in jackpots, now a maximum of $250. But they oppose efforts by nonprofits to allow winnings to reach as much as 37 percent of the receipts of each game, Harvey said.
Tribes also want to see restrictions on the frequency of bingo nights and oppose proposals that would allow paid outsiders to run the games, Harvey said. “They want to turn this into a huge commercial enterprise with no limit on the pot,” she said.