Bingo has long been a means of gambling that some view as acceptable. Those who push that argument justify that form of gambling by look to the money that it can raise for charities or even churches who are active in the community and looking to give back. That was the justification of a bill that passed in both the Missouri House and the Senate. The bill looked to expand its scope and cut a tax in an effort to revive bingo and encourage operator expansion. Bingo has not faired well against the major casinos.
Given it passed so easily, it was surprising to some that Gov. Nixon chose to veto the bill. The St Joe News explains:
Gov. Jay Nixon this week vetoed an attempt to revive struggling bingo halls with an expansion of state rules and the elimination of a two-tenths-cent tax on game cards.
“I had no inkling this was going to happen, especially with its bipartisan support,” said Rep. Mike Lair, a Chillicothe Republican who authored the bill.
Mr. Lair said veterans and church group bingo games have decreased dramatically in recent years, but lifting some of the restrictions would’ve made it easier for them to use the games of chance as fundraisers.
Gov Nixon explained his decision to veto the bill was based on budgetary concerns and he felt it could lead to a significant expansion of gambling. The St Joe News continues:
“In light of current fiscal conditions, this reduction to education funding cannot be absorbed,” Mr. Nixon wrote.
Mr. Lair, a retired educator, said he never intended for the bingo bill to negatively affect the education budget.
If the reduction was realized, legislators had intended to make up the difference from the tax cut with general revenue during a supplemental budget request in early 2010, said Mark Schwartz, a budget analyst for Rep. Allen Icet, the House’s budget chairman.
Mr. Nixon also took issue with the bill because it authorized electronic bingo card monitoring devices, which he said was left undefined.
“The lack of a specific definition could lead to a significant expansion of gaming activities in the state,” he wrote.