Veterans groups in Arizona have claimed that state agencies are unfairly taking severe measures against electronic bingo cards. State agencies, on their turn claim that their agents are only conducting inspections aimed at preventing the use of illegal bingo machines.
Last week, Sonny Borrelli, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, joined a few members of the state’s Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion with a post, saying that Arizona’s departments of Revenue, Gaming, and Liquor are raiding and harassing organizations concerning the use of bingo technological aids (BTAs). Mr. Borrelli said that a letter sent by the aforementioned departments on September 1st was threatening the organizations that host bingo games across the state with potential criminal prosecution.
So-called BTAs are electronic bingo cards that help players with disabilities. They have been legal in the state of Arizona for six years now. On the contrary to what local veteran groups claim, state authorities say that the organizations are not suffering penalties because of using bingo technological aids but for using bingo gambling terminals that look very much like slot machines and can be played without other players present.
For the time being, Arizona residents can legally play bingo within state borders. Still, the game has to be offered by licensed game conductors under the specific rules of the Department of Revenue. Owning and operating a bingo gambling terminal without the necessary operating permit is illegal and could result in a class two misdemeanour.
Revenue, Gaming, and Liquor Departments Deny Any Harassment Linked to Bingo Machines
However, a letter from the state agencies that was sent to Mr. Borrelli last Monday, states that agencies’ experts made no criminal prosecution threats to non-profit organizations, and claims that the agencies’ only objective is to help such groups and organizations comply with the law. The Revenue, Gaming, and Liquor departments noted that their September 1st letter stated that liquor licenses of venues that intentionally allow illegal bingo machines to operate on their premises could be revoked.
Furthermore, the state agencies denied that agents were raiding the aforementioned premises and said these were only routine inspections of the organizations’ bingo licenses after noticing a small increase in the number of illegal bingo machines. Despite these claims, many veterans being present at the news conference shared their concern with the way the inspections were carried out. As mentioned above, a large number of them claimed that state agents have been aggressive during the inspections, rather than working with the local posts operating the bingo terminals.
At the news conference, some veterans noted that Arizona’s veteran organizations are dependent on bingo money to keep posts running, support their members and also give some money to the community. Part of the organization’s bingo games revenue was donated to MANA House, an organization that supports homeless veterans and was also used as funding for food banks and children in Arizona.
Governor Katie Hobbs’ spokesperson Christian Slater issued an email saying that the state agencies are not trying to prevent veterans and other non-profit organizations from generating revenue but to prevent unlawful exploitation of veterans and other Arizona residents who use bingo machines.