October 25, 2006 Edition

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Bingo and raffles
subject to ballot vote

(Note: The information presented below is part of non-biased educational materials developed by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture's public policy center. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the Division of Agriculture.)

When Arkansans head to the polls in November one issue they will decide on concerns the legalization of nonprofit bingo and raffles. The issue is considered a proposed constitutional amendment.

The proposed amendment would change the definition of lottery by excluding the "game of bingo" and raffles conducted by authorized organizations where the proceeds are used for charitable, religious or philanthropic purposes.

The constitutional amendment would legalize the game of bingo and raffles that are operated by certain nonprofit tax-exempt organizations that have been in existence at least five years and will use the receipts for the above-stated purposes. It would also enable the Arkansas general assembly to adopt laws regulating and taxing charitable bingo and raffles.

Supporters of this ballot issue say the proposed amendment provides more fund-raising flexibility for local nonprofits and civic groups. They also say the amendment legalizes charitable fund-raising events that have been conducted for years without the organization's knowledge of their legal status.

Opponents say the amendment opens the door to high-stakes bingo enterprises run by large national nonprofits. They also say that charity gaming is largely cash based, thus providing an opportunity for tax evasion, fraud and other illegal gambling associated activities.

Visit http://ppc.uaex.edu/ballot, or contact the Lawrence County Extension Service at 886-3741 to learn more about the ballot issues.

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