Tip jar 'sunset' on horizon in '98

October 04, 1997


Staff Writer

A move to change key provisions in Washington County's tip jar gambling law is drawing support from state lawmakers, but there is some disagreement over the details.

On Friday, members of the county delegation to the Maryland General Assembly heard a request from the county gaming commission at amend the law, which requires a percentage of the proceeds from tip jar games go to charities, fire companies and other nonprofit groups.

One change targeted by the commission is the law's "sunset" provision, which will have charitable contributions from tip jars ceasing after June 30, 1999. The commission proposed the sunset be removed.


"I can't imagine too many people who are against this money going to charity," said Sue Tuckwell, gaming commission chairwoman.

But while no delegation member voiced opposition to amending the bill, Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he favored extending the sunset, for maybe five or six years, rather than removing it.

Leaving in some type of sunset requires the state to periodically re-evaluate the law, Munson said.

"It does do the duty of forcing the General Assembly to review that issue," she said.

Another proposed change would require clubs to make a flat 15 percent contribution in cash from their gross tip jar profits to the gaming commission.

Clubs now are allowed to give up to 5 percent of their tip jar gross in the form of in-kind services, for a total 15 percent contribution. The law calls for the clubs to give 20 percent starting next July, with the 5 percent in-kind contribution remaining.

The amendment, proposed by a club representative on the gaming commission, is intended to remove the hassle of documenting in-kind services by the commission and clubs.

"This has created somewhat of a nightmare as to determine what is an in-kind contribution," Tuckwell said.

Other proposed changes include extending the terms of commission members from two to four years and allowing officers in nonprofit organizations to serve on the commission as long as their group does not receive tip jar funds.

Legislation that would have made similar changes stalled in the legislature last spring when concerns emerged that it would be amended to include gaming issues in other parts of the state. But Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said there should be no problem getting a bill passed when the legislature starts its annual 90-day session in January.

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