Allied Charities of Minnesota

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  • 20 Oct 2020 11:07 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    On Wednesday, October 14 the House passed a bonding/tax bill and on Thursday, October 15 the Senate did as well. The House made changes to the bill that had been previously negotiated with the Senate. The House adjourned prior to the Senate being able to amend and send it back to the House. Tax relief for licensed gambling charities was in the Senate bill, but was not included in the final bill that passed.

    I know that many of you have told me that relief for us would never come, but I am still enough of an optimist to believe that government would do the right thing. I held out hope to the end as misguided as it apparently was. I want to thank Senator Roger Chamberlain for all that he did and tried to do for us. He is a good friend of all of us who work so hard to fulfill our organizations’ missions. I also need to thank Ward Einess, ACM lobbyist, who did everything that he could to see this through. I am proud to call him a friend.

    I have never come to grips with why state government would want to dismantle a 75 year old state wide safety net that is comprised of citizens whose only goal is to help those in need. Taxing us out of existence seems completely at odds with the benefits that we provide in our communities throughout the state. ACM and its members have always believed that the closer we are to the needs of our communities, the better positioned we are to assist.

    But to give up the fight is to give up hope, and we are not willing to do that.  We are resilient and we are committed.  There is an election on the horizon.  Talk to your candidates for public office; make sure they support tax relief for charities; and then vote.  If our voice was not successful at the legislature, perhaps it will be successful in the voting booth. You have the opportunity to make a difference and I hope you will do just that.

    There is still time to apply for Regional Director or At Large Director of ACM. Deadline for application is Mon., Oct. 26. Link to the application: http://alliedcharitiesmn.org/sys/website/?pageId=18090

    In the past several weeks there have been multiple after hour robberies of pull tab sites in the metro area. Please ensure that your cash is protected at closing. Please talk with employees about what to do if a robbery is attempted during business hours. The best advice is to give the robber what they want, do not risk your life or another person’s life.

    Below are some of my most recent thoughts.

    Regards,

    Al

    What were once people in a community sharing a common goal of helping others has become something altogether different. Dollars meant for helping the less fortunate are now going to the state and those who profit from our efforts.

    Site owners are making six figure annual incomes off of charitable gambling and some are making more than the charity.

    The distributor/manufacturers are marketing directly to sites without the knowledge of or approval of the charity.

    A charity that wants to offer multiple electronic systems to their patrons is told that if the charity tries to proceed with bringing in a competing system that the only thing changing will be the charity. The charity then either accepts or loses the site.

    This year the GCB has conducted cash audits across all organizations and is in the process of conducting LPE audits across all organizations. To my knowledge this has never been done before. ACM has always said that individuals/organizations that knowingly defraud need to be punished to the full extent of the law. For the vast majority of gambling managers this is not their day job, it is what they do after work. ACM has said that those individuals/organizations that make mistakes with no malintent need to be educated and mentored not punished.  

    Our charitable missions were once the number one beneficiary of charitable gambling. Our charitable missions are now number two behind the state. In electronic gambling our charitable missions are number three behind the state and the manufacturer. If there are no interventions, within a few years our charitable missions, the hallmark of charitable gaming, will be number four behind the manufacturer, the state and the site.


  • 19 Oct 2020 11:43 | Allen Lund (Administrator)
  • 05 Oct 2020 09:05 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    A good reminder to be checking all currency that you are taking in.

    Counterfeit $10 10052020.pdf

  • 17 Sep 2020 07:58 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    Attached is the 2021 ACM Regional and At Large Director Application.

    Regions up for election this year are:

    Region 3 Counties: Carlton, Chisago, Cook, Lake, Pine, and St. Louis.

    Region 5 Counties: Sherburne, Stearns, and Wright

    Region 11 Counties: Anoka and Ramsey

    Region 12 Counties: Dakota, Goodhue, Scott, and Washington.

    Applications for both Regional and At Large positions are due Monday, October 26, 2020.

    Regional Director voting will be conducted via e-mail and results will be announced at the ACM Annual meeting at 11 am on Friday, November 20, 2020. This meeting will be held via Zoom or similar method. Details to be provided as they become available.

    At Large Directors will be appointed by the ACM board at the first board meeting after the annual meeting. 

    Board meetings are held February, March, May, June, August, September, October and December on the third Monday of the month, except for November when it is held at the convention. During COVID meetings have been on Zoom or conference call.   

    In person meeting expenses are covered: hotel (Country Inn and Suites Roseville), meals and mileage.   

    Please consider applying for a position. It is important to have charities from across the state involved. 

    Return your application to alliedcharitiesmn@gmail.com

    Any questions, please advise.

    2021 ACM Director Application 09102020.pdf

  • 12 Aug 2020 11:31 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members and Associates of ACM,

    The ACM board has made the difficult decision to cancel the November 2020 Convention in Duluth given the current status of COVID-19. The unknowns over the next three months are just too many to justify moving forward with a convention.

    The decision was not made lightly. The ACM board is made up of members just like you. The safeguarding of the health and safety of our members and associates was a primary factor in the decision to cancel.

    The survey recently completed by members and associates showed that a majority of organizations, exhibitors and presenters would not be attending the convention this year. Most of them cited the virus and their unwillingness to put their members and employees at risk of contracting the virus as their reason for not attending. Those organizations that said they would attend collectively identified just over 100 people as likely attendees. Putting on a convention for 100 people is just not financially feasible.

    The ACM board is looking at ways to engage members with educational opportunities over the next many months.

    By statute ACM needs to have an annual meeting of its members. We will most likely have a zoom type meeting. We will be looking at November for this. There will be elections for regional and at-large board members. News on this will follow in the next several weeks.

    ACM has reservations for Saint Cloud in November of 2021.

    The ACM board asks for your support and understanding in this matter.

    Regards,

    Al


  • 27 Jul 2020 10:24 | Allen Lund (Administrator)
    Brooten, Minn., divided and devastated after alleged pulltab swindle

    By John Reinan Star Tribune

    July 25, 2020 — 7:06pm

    BROOTEN, MINN. – An alleged swindle of gambling proceeds that were the main source of charitable donations for Brooten has divided and devastated the small town.

    Jana Zenner, 38, a well-known local business owner, has been charged in Stearns County District Court with felony theft by swindle. More than $135,000 in pulltab revenue disappeared during her time as president of the Brooten Commercial Club, which held the state license for charitable gambling in the city of 750 residents about 115 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.

    Zenner was convicted last month of a separate felony swindling charge in neighboring Pope County for stealing nearly $49,000 from an elderly family friend.

    Residents are having a hard time grasping the allegation that a favorite local daughter and community leader was at the center of such swindles.

    “It’s just mind-boggling. It really is,” said Randy Olson, owner of the local newspaper, the Bonanza Valley Voice. “Obviously, everyone has a bad taste in their mouth.”

    “There’s been so much damage done,” said Tony Rooney, owner of Rooney’s Bar in the village of Sedan, about 8 miles outside Brooten. “It tore our community apart. Many people are angry with her, and probably for good reason.”

    According to the court complaint, Zenner stole the pulltab money from 2016 to 2018 and “admitted she had taken the money to keep her multiple businesses in town afloat.” She also admitted burning pulltab games to destroy evidence.

    Zenner owns several businesses in town, including a liquor store, market and gift shop. A Brooten native and local high school graduate, she’s served in several leadership roles in the community.

    Zenner’s lawyer, Minneapolis defense attorney Paul Engh, said she hopes to set everything right.

    “Ms. Zenner is working to resolve this unfortunate circumstance,” Engh said, “and to make good on any losses that were incurred.”

    Zenner, Olson said, is “warm and energetic. Makes things happen. You need people like that in a small town. You need people who generate activity and excitement.”

    But the excitement Zenner has been generating of late isn’t the kind most people welcome.

    Zenner’s swindling conviction last month involved 91-year-old Gordon Hollen, a family friend she offered to help with finances after his wife died. He lived on Scandinavian Lake about 15 miles outside Brooten, where Zenner also resides.

    According to court documents, Zenner wrote large checks on Hollen’s account to herself, her husband and their businesses. She was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to do community service and make restitution.

    The charge she now faces has been much more damaging to her hometown, residents say.

    As head of the Commercial Club, Zenner presided over a downward financial spiral that left the club broke and owing more than $50,000 in state and federal taxes, with no prospect of coming up with the money.

    As recently as 2015, the club donated more than $80,000 to community groups, said Olson, who became vice president of the Commercial Club after Zenner resigned in 2018.

    Now, he said, “We had to say no to a lot of groups that came asking for donations. The club has no money, no organization, no ability to generate money.”

    Some Brooten residents are so angry that they’re buying their liquor in Belgrade, 8 miles away, rather than shopping at Rooster’s Bottle Shop owned by Zenner, said Tom Kampsen, owner of the Ka-De-Shack Bar in Brooten.

    Kampsen is among Zenner’s alleged victims. Bars that sell pulltabs get to keep a portion of the proceeds, typically 20% for regular pulltabs and 15% for e-tabs. Kampsen said his take in recent years had been in the neighborhood of $7,500 to $10,000 a year. But in 2019, he said, he received just $204 for the entire year.

    “We trusted her,” he said. “She lied to us.”

    Marcia Hallermann, owner of Marcia’s Bar & Grill in Brooten, said she began to suspect something was wrong as early as 2015. In subsequent years, she said, her payout — previously around $10,000 a year — dwindled until in 2018, it was only $897 for the year.

    “I have been in business for 30 years,” Hallermann said. “I have worked with many different gambling organizations and I have never seen anything so sad and pathetically operated in my lifetime.”

    Zenner and Michelle Halls, the Commercial Club’s former gambling manager, said the money shortages were caused by a general decline in gambling, according to Hallermann.

    “We were going on information that Jana and Michelle gave us,” Hallermann said. “They were saying, ‘Oh, pulltab is down, gambling is down.’ ”

    Hallermann raised questions about the club’s finances but said it was difficult to go up against Zenner and Halls, who were viewed as pillars of the community.

    “They were influential people,” she said. “And how can Marcia Hallermann say something, because I’m just this [person] running a little bar?”

    Halls did not respond to a request for an interview. A former compliance officer at the Bonanza Valley State Bank in Brooten, she is no longer employed there, according to a bank spokesperson.

    “Right now, when we’re in this pandemic, it would be great if we had a club with a good amount of money to share out,” Hallermann said. “We don’t have a civic group that can donate any money in our community.”

    The Brooten gambling license is now held by the relief association of the Brooten Fire Department. Chief Matt Ogdahl said the department plans to donate to community activities, but it won’t be at the same level as the Commercial Club. The department has only two pulltab locations, while the club had five. And the department also will use pulltab money for its own equipment needs.

    Hallermann questioned why state auditors didn’t catch the alleged swindle sooner. The Minnesota Gambling Control Board, which regulates charitable gambling, declined to comment.

    Even after a conviction on one swindle and a felony charge on another, many in the community still support Zenner, Olson said.

    “A lot of people to this day don’t believe any of this, people who grew up with her,” he said. “They want to believe that it was just a misunderstanding.

    “It’s a lot of money and people can’t even wrap their head around it.”

    It’s a mess, Olson said, adding that he believes charitable gambling is ripe for fraud.

    “The gambling business is based on cash,” he said, “and it’s based on trust.”


  • 26 Jun 2020 08:33 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,


    There is new funding available effective June 15th  from the SBA. The Disaster Relief program applies to non-profits and allows for loans, with a forgivable advance of $10,000. However, not more than 1/3 of revenues can be derived from gambling. 

     

    Here is the eligibility checklist link


    https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/  


  • 24 Jun 2020 16:45 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    June 24, 2020

    Lawful Gambling Legislation Signed by Governor Walz:  The Board’s 2020 legislation, which was passed during the Special Session, was signed into law by Governor Walz on June 23, 2020.  All but one provision are COVID-19 relief provisions.  The one non-COVID-19 provision requires the annual audit that is required to be submitted to Revenue to also be submitted to the Gambling Control Board.


    2020 Legislative Summary is attached.

     

    Survey Results on Inappropriate Lessor Pressure:  Thank you to all who responded to the Gambling Control Board’s survey in the Gaming News about various types of pressure that lessors placed on licensed lawful gambling organizations.  Alarmingly, nearly 1 in every 3 respondents experienced pressure from their lessor on the type of games to offer.

    Of the 188 respondents, the following affirmative responses were received to the six survey questions:

    1. Lessor demanded the type of games to offer at site:  52
    2. Lessor dictated which games to order from distributor:  21
    3. Lessor demanded to make deposits or other administrative gambling-related
      actions:  11
    4. Lessor pressured licensed organization to donate to a specific group:  18
    5. Lessor insisted that licensed organization hire a person at that site:  15
    6. Lessor threatened to terminate the lease:  26

    Additionally, around 30 respondents provided detailed examples of lessor pressure on their licensed organization. If any one of those 30 examples were submitted to the Board as a complaint and verified after an investigation, they may prove to be a regulatory or statutory violation.  Please remember that the Board stands ready to investigate any submitted complaint. 

    A complaint form is attached.

    While it’s appropriate to take a lessor’s suggestions into consideration, ultimate control of an organization’s lawful gambling compliance with rules and statutes lies with the gambling manager.  The licensed gambling organizations get to choose the forms of gambling offered for sale, buy games from their choice of licensed distributors, and decide who to employ in support of their organization’s lawful gambling operations.  In order to pursue the most appropriate and effective course of action, the Board plans to address, through consultations with all stakeholders, this complicated issue of inappropriate lessor pressure.

    The Board stands ready to assist all licensed lawful gambling organizations with questions or concerns about licensed organizations and their lessors to provide a lawful, safe, and fun environment for lawful gambling.

    legislative-summary-2020.pdf

    complaint-form.pdf


  • 11 Jun 2020 11:36 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Organizations that were unwilling to give their name and e-mail address may use anonymous.survey@gmail.com.  ACM explained to the GCB how anonymity is important in such surveys. Please take the time to fill out the survey. You are able to use anonymous for your name as well. 


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