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Gaming Commission sued

August 20, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A local restaurant and beverage association filed suit against the Washington County Gaming Commission Tuesday because the Gaming Commission has not issued the group a wholesaler's license to sell tip jar packets for profit.

The Washington County Restaurant and Beverage Association filed the suit in Washington County Circuit Court.

Gaming Commission Director Daniel DiVito said by phone Tuesday that this year was the first time the association ever has applied for a wholesaler's license.

The Gaming Commission has asked that organizations, such as the Restaurant and Beverage Association, whose members sell tip jars for retail, not be issued wholesaler's licenses.

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DiVito said the Gaming Commission proposed the change to the Washington County Commissioners to stay in line with the intention of a state gaming law.

A wholesaler's license allows a person or entity to sell tip jar packets, which contain tips to be sold through tip jars for single games. A tip jar license allows a person to operate a tip jar at a specific location in the county.

Tip jars are games in which gamblers purchase peel-off tickets from large jars in hopes of winning money.

The Washington County Fire and Rescue Association would be exempt from the proposed change and would be permitted to have both wholesaler's and tip jar licenses.

DiVito said the proposed change would not apply to the Fire and Rescue Association because its tip jar proceeds go directly toward serving the community.

He said issuing a wholesaler's license to the Restaurant and Beverage Association might give the appearance of a conflict of interest and compromise the integrity of the Gaming Commission.

DiVito said the Gaming Commission compares reports from wholesalers and those who sell tip jars to check the amount of gaming fund proceeds reported by each and to look for discrepancies.

The suit asks that a judge order the Gaming Commission to grant the wholesaler's license or immediately consider the application.

Joseph A. Schwartz, the Restaurant and Beverage Association's attorney, told the County Commissioners at a meeting Tuesday that the Gaming Commission's claim that it was trying to keep aligned with the intention of a state law was "bogus."

He said other organizations should receive the same consideration as the Fire and Rescue Association.

"What should be sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander," Schwartz said.

He questioned whether the county had the legal right to make such a change and said he thinks the proposed change was aimed directly at the Restaurant and Beverage Association.

"Why you would single them out, I don't know," Schwartz said.

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