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County gamblers spent less on tip jars in 2007

September 07, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Gamblers in Washington County spent about $71.7 million on tip jar games in fiscal year 2007, according to a report released this week by the Washington County Gaming Commission.

That total was $1.2 million less than players spent last fiscal year.

The report details the number of tip jars sold, gross revenue and gross profit for each business that operated tip jars in fiscal year 2007.

The Improved Order of Red Men Conococheague Tribe 84 was the biggest tip jar operator in the county, selling more than $8.4 million in tickets in fiscal year 2007.

In playing tip jars, gamblers buy tickets from jars in hopes of winning cash. The tickets, which usually cost a dollar, are printed with a number. One of the tickets corresponds with a winning number sealed on the jar.

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The gaming commission regulates tip jars in the county, selling the jars to businesses and collecting a portion of the revenues. The commission distributes the revenues it collects to local charities.

Not-for-profit clubs accounted for most of the county's tip jar gambling in fiscal year 2007.

More than half of the 80,387 tip jars sold in Washington County were operated by clubs such as the Red Men, American Legion and Moose Lodge.

The 29 not-for-profit clubs that operated tip jars sold about $42 million in tickets and earned more than $6.7 million in profit.

By comparison, more than 80 liquor stores and taverns operated just less than 25,000 tip jars in fiscal year 2007. They sold roughly $21.7 million in tickets and earned about $3.7 million in profit.

Fire and rescue departments also operate tip jars.

Although most departments sell a modest amount of tickets compared with local businesses and clubs, the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway was a notable exception, selling almost $3 million in tickets and earning more than $743,000 in profit.

The gaming commission collected roughly 24 percent of the gross tip jar profits, or $2.9 million, to distribute to local charities.

Even though gross profits were down from last fiscal year, the commission increased its distribution amount by 1.75 percent.

Washington County Gaming Commission Director James B. Hovis said this is because jars are larger than they have been in previous years.

"Small jars that earn less than $50 aren't taxed by the commission, and groups are buying less of those. So the commission sees more of the profits," Hovis said.

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