(The Center Square) – Arizona state Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, raised concern over the state government’s apparent crackdown on a bingo gaming system popular among nonprofit veterans organizations.
In a letter to three state agencies, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Gaming, and the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, Borrelli claimed that they are “conducting raids” over the use of Bingo Technological Aids. The bingo machine is popular at posts for the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“As I understand your letter dated September 1, 2023, you are threatening to criminally prosecute these non-profit organizations and to revoke their liquor licenses because they are using Bingo Technological Aids (“BTAs”) to conduct bingo game,” he wrote. “Your reasoning is as suspicious as it is legally suspect.”
“BTAs have been lawful in Arizona since 2017. In 2017, the Senate and House overwhelmingly passed SB 1180. This common-sense law specifically allows technological aids to be used in bingo games when they serve as a substitute for bingo cards, and it was the legislature’s intent for these aids to be supplied by contractors and utilized by bingo licensees. A.R.S. § 5-406(E), (X). This law is necessary to accommodate individuals with disabilities and to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” he added.
The lawmaker held a press conference on Friday with veterans in order to voice opposition to the state agencies.
“The Department of Revenue regulates bingo, not the Department of Gaming. And it’s appalling that we see the Department of Revenue keeps telling people to defer to the Department of Gaming, which by the way is a major conflict of interest,” Borrelli said.
Meanwhile, veteran leaders shared how the devices help their organizations.
“We just started these recently, and with that extra income, it helps us with our mortgage and bills and such,” Randy Amos, who is the commander for American Legion Post 44 in Scottsdale, said at the press conference. Amos said that all the other income comes from the bar and restaurant, and the bingo games give them a financial boost and combats “dwindling membership.”
“This is a very important thing for us and it helps us out a lot,” he continued.