In Austin, a Lawsuit Over "The Future of Bingo"

Courthouse News has the suit filed in Austin federal court: More than a dozen veterans and fraternal organizations, including VFW Texas and Dallas-based Amvets Dept. of Texas, Inc., are suing the Texas Lottery Commission and its commissioners over "the future of bingo." Which is to say: Each of the plaintiffs holds a state-issued license that allows them to conduct charitable bingo. Only, with that license, which is granted under the Texas Bingo Enabling Act, comes this stipulation: Any money made from charitable bingo can't be used to support political candidates (which they're fine with) or "influence or attempt to influence legislation" (which they're not cool with).

Because as far as these groups are concerned, it's only a matter of time before Texas -- which, says the lawsuit, "faces an unprecedented fiscal deficit estimated as high as $18 billion in the coming biennium" -- legalizes all kinds of gambling, including bingo. (Matter of fact, on July 8 the Texas House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures does have on its agenda a discussion concerning "Gaming and the expansion of gambling in Texas.") And if the state ultimately decides, yup, let's git to gamblin', it'll involve going to the voters to amend the Texas Constitution. And these groups want to be able to have a say in the outcome, which laws prohibits at present:

Charities that rely on bingo revenues to support their activities are one of the groups in the greatest position to gain or lose, depending on the outcome of anticipated gambling legislation. If, for example, a measure is passed that permits casinos or similar facilities across Texas, but which leaves bingo halls alone, this would very realistically be the end of bingo in many parts of the State.9 On the other hand, bingo and the charities it supports could greatly benefit if the charities were permitted to offer additional types of games as part of a proposed gambling bill. Therefore it is no exaggeration to say that the life of Texas charitable bingo is on the line during the next legislative session.

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