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Tip jar profits increase

February 18, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Gamblers in Washington County spent $73.6 million on tip jars in fiscal year 2004, about $10.2 million less than the previous year.

But Gaming Director James Hovis said tip jars are still big business in the county.

While both the number of tip jars sold and gross sales took a dip, the profit from the sales - after payouts were made - increased over the previous fiscal year.

The profit from tip jars in fiscal year 2004 was $12.1 million, up from $11.9 million in fiscal year 2003.

Hovis said that even though the number of jars sold decreased, the number of tickets in a jar has increased, resulting in a higher profit.

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A higher profit typically means the gaming commission will have more money to distribute to nonprofit organizations and the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

"Gaming distributions have gone up consistently. That's what we're after," Hovis said.

Tip jars are a form of gambling in which people purchase peel-off tickets from large jars in the hope of winning cash.

Clubs, taverns, liquor stores and others that operate tip jars give 15 percent of jar profits to the gaming commission, which distributes the money to the Fire and Rescue Association and nonprofit organizations, as required by state law.

The county doesn't keep any of the profits.

In 2004, the gaming commission distributed $1.4 million to the Fire and Rescue Association, up from $1.3 million in 2003, according to gaming statistics.

The commission distributed $1.4 million to 101 nonprofits in 2004, up from $1.3 million given to 97 organizations in 2003.

Maureen Grove, executive director of Girls Inc., said the gaming proceeds have been a boon to the organization.

Since the gaming commission began distributing money in 1996, Girls Inc. has received $374,641 from tip jar proceeds, which has helped the group increase services to its members, according to gaming statistics.

Girls Inc. serves less-fortunate girls under the age of 18, according to the gaming commission.

The gaming money has helped the organization buy computers so children have a place to do homework, feed members, pay for transportation so girls can attend the center, and provide swimming lessons and other services, Grove said.

Girls Inc. received $39,846 in gaming proceeds in 2004.

Also since 1996:

n The Community Free Clinic, which provides free health care, medication and other services to senior citizens and those who cannot pay for medical expenses, has received $894,281 in gaming dollars.

n REACH (Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless) has received $647,006.

n Food Resources, which provides food for the less fortunate, has received $472,155.

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