County Comment: Gaming Collections Announced, Hearing Held

County Comment
Gaming Collections Announced, Hearing Held
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

The Washington County Gaming Commission has announced that gaming funds collected during fiscal year 2007 total $2,935,931.90, and will be distributed to charitable organizations and Emergency Services corporations during the fiscal year 2007 funding cycle. This total represents gaming funds collected between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007.
Private clubs contribute 15% of their gross profits to the fund and for-profit establishments such as taverns and liquor stores contribute 50% of their gross profits to the fund. This year's total reflects an increase of 1.75% over fiscal year 2006 revenues of $2,884,489.46.
This year the Gaming Commission received 128 requests for allocations from 99 separate organizations, totaling $3,021,432.69.
The State Statute governing Gaming activities in Washington County requires 50% of the gaming funds collected to be allocated to the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (WCVFRA). In January WCVFRA received a disbursement of $664,790.05. In August 2007, the Association will receive its second disbursement of $803,175.90 bringing the total allocation from the gaming fund for fiscal year 2007 to $1,467,965.95 or 50% of the fund.
The remaining $1,467,965.95 will be allocated to charitable organizations that made application to receive gaming funds. The Gaming Commission heard presentations from those charitable organizations on July 18th and 19th during this year's round of public hearings. The Commission is making final determination of the allocations, and those organizations selected to receive funding will be announced in August.
In 1995 the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation permitting the Washington County Commissioners to adopt regulations that would make it lawful for an entity licensed by the County to sell tip jars to consumers. Legislation was also adopted that established the existence of the Gaming Commission. Its main duty is to distribute funds received from the gross proceeds of the sale of tip jars to charitable and non-profit organizations within Washington County.
The department within County Government charged with oversight of gaming activities is the Washington County Gaming Office. The Office's responsibilities include reviewing and issuing gaming licenses, collection of gaming proceeds, oversight of wholesale operations, enforcement of State and County laws and regulations, inspections of licensed establishments, oversight of bingo operations, issuance of permits for amusement devices, and assisting the Gaming Commission with its mission.
Since 1995 Washington County has regulated gaming in an open and transparent manner. The Gaming Commission, established that same year, has been responsible for the distribution of more than $31 million dollars, all of which benefits local charities and emergency services.
The Gaming Commission is a volunteer 7-member board appointed by the County Delegation to the General Assembly and the Board of County Commissioners and is responsible to ensure that the revenue produced by gaming activity is equitably distributed.