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County approves revisions to tighten up eligibility for tip-jar gaming licenses

August 20, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • James B. Hovis, director of the Office of Community Grant Management, addressed the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday afternoon regarding tip jars.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Revisions to Washington County’s regulations approved Tuesday makes certain charitable organizations are ineligible to receive a tip-jar gaming license if they do not provide a current service to residents.

The five-member Washington County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the proposed revisions, which also include clarifications to the definition of volunteer fire company and rescue companies.

The revisions make certain organizations “ineligible” to receive a tip-jar license if the organization’s ability to provide fire and rescue services has been withdrawn, revoked or directed to cease by the commissioners, according to a county memorandum outlining the changes.

In the county, revenue from the sale of tip jars, a form of paper gambling, is distributed by the Washington County Gaming Commission to charities and fire and rescue companies.

County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said the revisions were not motivated by the county’s decision to no longer recognize the Fairplay Fire Co. on Jan. 29, and simply to add clarification to definitions and requirements for a license.

Several other technical and grammatical corrections were added, according to James B. Hovis, director of the county Office of Community Grant Management, which administers the county’s gaming funds and licenses.

“We just took a look at the whole document and made sure they were consistent,” Murray told the commissioners.

Fire and rescue companies, which include first-responder emergency medical service coverage, must be actively recognized by the commissioners to be eligible to receive a tip-jar license, under the changes.

Murray said the motion also cleans up prior steps taken by the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association in regard to Fairplay’s indefinite suspension, specifically in setting up an escrow account to accumulate gaming money that would have gone to the now-defunct fire company previously.

The revisions also help to remove some ambiguities in the tip-jar regulations.

Murray said parts of the decree could be hard to interpret, such as rules governing licensing for a one-day event versus an annual license.

The Fairplay Fire Co. voluntarily turned in its gaming license, which had permitted the company to sell tip jars, in February.

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