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Tip jars yield $1 million for charities

January 19, 1998

Tip jars yield $1 million for charities

read the Gaming commission grants

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

The Washington County Gaming Commission divvied nearly $1 million in tip jar gambling profits to charity on Monday.

A math error, however, resulted in the gaming commission initially awarding $17,400 more than collected, a discrepancy later resolved by a telephone vote.

The gaming commissioners intended to award $953,240.25 to the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association and 68 charities, Director Kathy Sterling said.

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But because the list of charitable awards was tallied incorrectly, the panel inadvertently voted to award a total of $970,683.25 in donations.

When the discrepancy was discovered by The Herald-Mail, Sterling recalculated and discovered the computer database program she was using did not include $17,400 in donations.

She contacted the gaming commissioners, who resolved the difference by a phone vote.

The big winners included Food Resources Inc., which will receive $47,438.44; CASA, which will get $43,340.34; and Boys & Girls Club, which will get $26,036.

Food Resources will buy a refrigerated food pantry, CASA will install a security system at its new shelter for abused women and the Boys & Girls Club will use its grant to pay for the transportation of youth to its two activities centers.

Since the county began regulating tip jar gambling in July 1995, the gaming commission has given away $3.2 million to charity.

The amount going into the gaming fund has been increasing, but so have the number of requests.

"There are still worthy causes we have not funded," said Gaming Commissioner Don McKenrick.

For example, the YMCA was passed over this time, although it has received $63,180 in tip jar profits in the past.

The YMCA wanted a grant to pay off its telephone lease, but gaming commissioners said they would rather fund programs or items that have a direct benefit to people in the county.

"The priorities are going to always be ... to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and provide medical services to those in need," said Chairman Fred Rohrer.

Other organizations, like Potomac Playmakers and Rohrersville Band, were turned down because they aren't charities, gaming commissioners said.

The Maryland Theatre, which has been turned down in the past for not submitting financial statements, was granted $5,000 toward its debt. The theater had requested $125,000.

The biggest recipient of tip jar money is the fire and rescue association. By law, the association will get 40 percent of the take, or $381,296.10.

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