County tip jar records scrutinized

May 06, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Shortly after Dan DiVito took over as director of the Washington County Gaming Commission in late 2002, he began asking questions about information missing from the office's tip jar gambling records.

To make sure the missing information didn't translate into any missing money, DiVito asked tip jar wholesalers to document 731 of about 5,000 spotty records.

"I got documentation on every one of them, and we discovered absolutely no wholesaler owing any money," he said.

Clerical errors on the part of wholesalers were to blame for many of the problems, which covered 1 million records dating to 1996 when the regulations were launched.


A computerized record-keeping system that went online last year should prevent future problems, he said.

Since all the money was accounted for, DiVito decided it wouldn't be worth the time-consuming job of making wholesalers document the other jars.

DiVito said the exercise was useful because it put wholesalers on notice that his office is carefully tracking the $83 million gambled in the county each year.

"I'm telling them that we're looking and demanding more accuracy," he said. "The more they know we're paying attention, the more unlikely it is they'll try to cut a corner."

DiVito's questions prompted at least one wholesaler to buy an improved record-keeping system.

Tip jar gambling is expected to raise $3.8 million this year for fire and rescue operations and nonprofits in Washington County. That is about 6 percent more than last year.

Since 1996, about $23 million in tip jar gambling profits have gone to charity.

The Washington County Gaming Commission will give out the next round of grants in September. Applications from nonprofits are due May 14.

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