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Gaming Office collects more than $3 million collects more than $3 million

July 08, 2005|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Gaming Office collected more than $3 million in gambling revenues this past fiscal year, a 6 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

The larger pot means charitable groups and the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association will receive record payouts from the Gaming Commission.

"This is a record amount," Gaming Director Jim Hovis said Thursday. "We've never broken the $3 million amount."

Hovis said the revenue has increased because tip jar sales have increased. The number of clubs, taverns and liquor stores licensed to sell tip jars, however, has remained steady at about 113, Hovis said.

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

The Gaming Commission receives a portion of the profits from tip jars and then distributes that money to the nonprofits and the Fire and Rescue Association, as required by state law.

The tip jar revenue for fiscal year 2005, which ended on June 30, was $3,001,848.

Half of the money collected by the Gaming Commission goes to the Fire and Rescue Association. That amount will be $1,500,924, based on fiscal year 2005 revenue.

The remaining money will be distributed to various charitable nonprofit organizations.

Hovis said the Gaming Commission has received 120 applications from nonprofit groups requesting money. The commission will hold public hearings on July 13-14 so the applicants have a chance to discuss their requests.

The commission then will announce on Aug. 10 which groups will receive money, Hovis said.

"We won't be able to fully fund all the requests," Hovis said.

Tips jars generated a little more than $2.8 million in fiscal year 2004, Hovis said.

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.

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