Gaming Amendment on November Ballot
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. October 7, 2013
A measure to boost the minimum wage in New Jersey is not the only voter referendum on the November ballot. Another constitutional amendment would allow veterans organizations to use profits from their raffles and bingo to pay their own expenses.
Senator Kip Bateman says a constitutional amendment is needed because of strict regulations on gambling in New Jersey imposed when the measure allowing casinos was approved in the 1970s.
“They wanted to make certain that it would be limited to just Atlantic City and no other organization. It was a constitutional amendment at that point. So that’s why the language is very tight.”
Robert McNulty is the government chair of the New Jersey council of the Vietnam Veterans of America and is a member of the VFW post in Ventnor.
He says veterans groups are now allowed to use money raised from their games of chance only for education, religious, or community programs, and they need some of it to maintain their buildings.
“We can’t pay for insurance. We can’t do building repairs or maintenance or upgrades. We can’t do utilities. So we have to raise additional funds to pay our utilities, to pay our insurance, to do our maintenance and upkeep and so forth.”
Without that ability, McNulty says some veterans groups might be forced to sell their meeting halls.
“We all know insurance is going up and in storm damaged areas that shelled some money out they’ll be a lot more insurance going up. Utilities aren’t getting ay cheaper. So if you get to where you have a facility and you can’t afford to maintain it, you’ll have to sell it.”
McNulty is hopeful voters will approve the amendment.
“It’s not going to take anybody’s money away from anybody. No taxpayers are going to be hit here. It’s not taking any money from state government. It’s just allowing the money that we raise through legalized games of chance to be permitted to use in our buildings.”