Allied Charities of Minnesota

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  • 27 Nov 2020 08:23 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Counterpoint: Problem gambling is not a 'sin.' It's a disease

    For some, it's a disease of the brain — one with few outward signs — that can destroy lives. 

    By Susan Sheridan Tucker

     

    NOVEMBER 25, 2020 — 5:52PM

    WAYNE PARRY • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Problem gambling isn’t a sin, the writer argues. For some, it’s a disease.

    I cringe when I see “sin taxes” associated with gambling (“Liquor, lotto are COVID escapes,” Nov. 22). I understand the intent. Too often we view excessive gambling as a moral weakness. We believe these “problem or compulsive gamblers” lack the willpower to stop and must endure the shameful labels we easily apply.

    Most Minnesotans who gamble (78%), do so as entertainment and do not suffer serious negative consequences. However, on behalf of those who struggle, I’m asking Minnesotans to see beyond the “sin.”

    The impact of a gambling disorder on individuals and their families is devastating. It is a disease of the brain, one with few outward signs. It can destroy relationships as well as bring financial ruin to an entire family who may be completely in the dark until a loved one has gambled away their assets.

    As an advocate with Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance (NPGA), I’d like to share the most basic facts about gambling addiction:

    Nationwide, 4% of the population lands somewhere on the problem gambling spectrum, with over 1% meeting medical criteria for a gambling disorder. Anyone who has experienced this condition will tell you that being able to “walk away” from an addiction is just not possible. Medical experts agree: Gambling can be a real addiction and one often accompanied by other mental health issues and addictions. It’s also the addiction with the highest suicide rate.

    Under COVID-19 conditions, many Minnesotans are under financial and emotional duress, whether it’s unemployment, inability to pay bills, food insecurity, fear of eviction, isolation from friends and family, dealing with sick family members, personally fighting the illness, and political and social uncertainty; all of which create the perfect storm for chronic stress.

    Those vulnerable before COVID-19 may now be more so and likely many more are turning to gambling as a means to escape the pains of our current reality. We know many are turning to online gambling sites, social casino games, and video games with embedded gambling elements. These are unregulated sites, sometimes predatory by design. Some in fact take your money and only provide virtual rewards. The number of players in these unregulated arenas is growing.

    COVID-19 has placed huge economic burdens on every state and expanding gambling options may indeed provide new and needed revenue streams. NPGA remains neutral on the legalization of gambling but insists that comprehensive consumer protections be in place and that funds be set aside for prevention, treatment and research.

    NPGA benefits from legislative funding through the lottery and charitable gambling. Those funds enable us to provide outreach, training and research across the state. The state has also set up a fund for treatment, administered by the Department of Human Services. Services are currently available through telehealth during COVID-19.

    If you or someone you care about is exhibiting signs of problematic gambling, help is available and it works. Call the state helpline at 1-800-333-4673 (HOPE) any time, any day or visit northstarpg.org for more resources and information.

     

    Susan Sheridan Tucker is executive director, Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance.


  • 22 Nov 2020 10:17 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    Please see the article below. There are those in the legislature that do not believe that we pay enough in taxes to the state. They have told me that if the choice were theirs that they would raise our taxes. Something to pay attention to this next session as the state deals with a deficit. 

    Regards,

    Al

    Millions in 'sin taxes' flowing into state coffers during pandemic

    By Jessie Van Berkel Star Tribune

    November 21, 2020 — 8:09pm

    Annie Santos headed to the store for some emergency supplies after a distressing message from her children’s school.

    “We just got the e-mail from school saying, ‘We’re switching to distance learning,’ ” Santos said, laughing in the parking lot of the St. Paul Haskell’s. “So I’m like, I’m going to go get wine.”

    Stressed-out parents are pouring themselves an extra glass. Workers stuck at home are breaking up the monotony with more frequent smoke breaks or punctuating the day with a post-work beer. And people seeking a little excitement — or avoiding casinos — are rushing to the lottery and pulltabs as a welcome distraction.

    Minnesotans’ extra spending on those vices is adding up.

    State revenue from the so-called “sin taxes” was nearly $37 million more than predicted in July through September. Tobacco tax dollars alone were $20 million more than anticipated, and collections from some types of gambling, like pulltabs and bingo, were double what was expected.

    The growth in revenue in these areas comes as the pandemic has hurt many businesses, nonprofits and families across the state, leaving the state with a projected deficit of $2.3 billion over the two-year budget cycle.

    It is not just Minnesotans who are indulging. Sin taxes are an area where pandemic-rattled state budgets appear to be holding strong across the country, said Brian Sigritz with the National Association of State Budget Officers. As governors and legislatures scramble for options to shore up massive budget gaps, Sigritz said he expects more states will consider increased sin taxes as well as legalizing sports betting and recreational marijuana. Minnesota has not legalized either of those, but the proposals have been floated in years past.

    House DFL Tax Committee Chairman Paul Marquart rejected the idea of increased taxes on tobacco, alcohol or gambling. He said he opposes any regressive taxes that hit poor people harder. His Senate counterpart, GOP Tax Chairman Roger Chamberlain, declined to comment. A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said it is too soon to weigh in on the subject, and the governor has not yet discussed raising those taxes. However, Walz and House DFL leaders support legalizing recreational marijuana.

    As state leaders are trying to figure out how to weather the pandemic, so are Minnesotans. People are grappling with losing family members or their jobs and struggling with the emotional and logistical challenges of social distancing.

    Lance Klatt, executive director of the state Service Station and Convenience Store Association, said he suspects the rise in lottery and tobacco sales is due to Minnesotans seeking a diversion during a year of deep uncertainty.

    “When people are just stressed out, they turn to tobacco and alcohol to get through it,” Klatt said. “Maybe people said, ‘Hey, if I’m going to socialize, I’m going to do it at home and smoke a cigar or smoke cigarettes.’ ”

    Customers at Twones Tobacco in St. Paul have told manager Emrah Kadric there are just fewer things to do so they are using their vape pens, chewing tobacco or other products more often. Kadric said he isn’t seeing a lot of new customers, but the usual people are buying more. He estimated sales have been up 20% during the pandemic.

    Jordan Scott has been an on-and-off cigarette smoker. The Minneapolis resident started back up since he’s been working from home.

    “It’s easier to go out for more breaks,” Scott said. He’s also buying more alcohol and “cracking that first one open a little earlier than before.”

    However, he said his liquor store purchases have increased largely because he doesn’t go out to drink anymore.

    “I haven’t gone out to a bar since they really all shut down in March,” Scott said.

    From July through September, the state netted roughly $2.5 million more in alcohol tax revenue than expected.

    “It’s a faster pace, there’s no doubt about it,” said Brent Gregoire, manager of the Haskell’s liquor store. “They are buying a little more, less frequently. They make a little bit bigger purchase so they don’t have to go out as much.”

    People are not just spending more than anticipated on booze, tobacco and gambling. Sales tax revenue in general was 26% higher than predicted for July through September, with the federal unemployment insurance payments helping buoy spending, state economist Laura Kalambokidis said.

    An extra $20 million in tobacco taxes and $2.5 million from alcohol sounds small when total state revenue for the year is about $21 billion. But the state is facing a multibillion-dollar hole for the current two-year budget and a bigger shortfall in the years after that, Kalambokidis said.

    “What look like relatively small revenue sources all matter,” Kalambokidis said. “A $20 million program could be extremely important to quite a number of Minnesotans.”

    The biggest revenue surprise, Kalambokidis said, was the jump in lawful gambling, which includes pulltabs, bingo and raffles.

    State budget officials predicted they would get $9.5 million in tax revenue from that type of gambling in July through September. They got more than $21 million.

    Pulltabs made up 94.5% of lawful gambling sales last year. While electronic pulltabs are growing in popularity, the old-school paper ones common in bars across the state account for most sales.

    The popularity of lawful gambling has climbed over the past decade, said Gary Danger, a compliance officer for the Minnesota Gambling Control Board. They were preparing for March to be their biggest month ever, then halfway through the month, Walz shut down bars and restaurants. There was a pent-up demand when things reopened in June.

    “Things have come back bigger than ever,” Danger said.

    Like pulltabs, Minnesota lottery purchases have been growing for years. But 2020 has been a significant jump, state lottery Executive Director Adam Prock said. In July through September the state’s lottery sales were up 25% to nearly $181 million, compared to the same time last year.

    Klatt, who represents the gas station and convenience stores, said they are likely selling more scratch-offs and other lottery games because people are not going to the casinos as much.

    Prock said customers tell them it is a way to bring a little fun into another night at home.

    “People say, ‘Well, my husband and I don’t do puzzles. We buy a few dollars in lottery tickets and it’s become our Friday night thing,’ ” Prock said. “We’re filling that niche right now.”


  • 19 Nov 2020 11:56 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    EO20-99.pdf

    In accordance with Governor Tim Walz’ Emergency Order EO-20-99 and MN Stay Safe Guidance,  and to ensure the integrity of lawful gambling, all licensed organizations’ lawful gambling activities conducted at all restaurants and bars (excluding those locations with separate off-sale entrances or convenience store locations) must implement the following by 10 pm on Friday, November 20, 2020:

    CASH

    Remove all cash from the site for any closed or paused games* (record amount of cash by game name and serial number) including starting cash banks and deposit the funds into your gambling bank account at your retail bank no later than November 27 (four business days).

    DO NOT leave cash in a safe or cash drawer at any location for any closed or paused games.

    *Only paper and electronic pull-tab games may be paused.  This requires a cash deposit and audit of tickets be made at that point the game is paused.  A record of that audit must remain with the paused game and that paused game must be put back in play at the time the Board permits that type of game at the premises permit location.  No audit necessary for electronic games.

    INVENTORY

    At your discretion, all games (played and unplayed pull-tabs, bingo paper, paddletickets, and any other form of gambling for all closed or paused games) may be secured at a permitted premises that may close during the effective dates of this EO.  All inventory, including any electronic equipment, must be securely stored and is your organization’s responsibility. Pull-tab dispensing devices must be powered off and the meter readings must be recorded.  Please note: All games are NOT required to be permanently closed**.

    LAWFUL GAMES

    Raffles (MN Stat 349.173 and MN rule 7861.0310) and Sports Themed Tipboards (MN Stat 349.1711 and MN rule 7861.0295) may only continue at approved premises permit locations if all applicable statute, EO and rule requirements are followed.

    **All other forms of lawful gambling must be either (1) CLOSED and follow those same procedures as are required under normal circumstances after closing games; or, (2) PAUSED, and the game product must be secured and in your organization’s control no later than 10 pm on Friday, November 20, 2020.

    For those organizations with exempt permit activities, please go to Exempt Permits.

    Currently, the Gambling Control Board will not be accepting walk-in appointments at any of its four locations, but strongly encourages contact via email, or alternatively via phone to your assigned Compliance or Licensing Specialist.


  • 11 Nov 2020 07:09 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Allen Lund is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

    Topic: ACM Annual Meeting
    Time: Nov 20, 2020 11:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

    Join Zoom Meeting
    https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86840315607

    Meeting ID: 868 4031 5607
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    Meeting ID: 868 4031 5607
    Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcaJ8PPKeF

    2020acmannualmeeting11092020.pdf

  • 11 Nov 2020 05:44 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    From the GCB:


    In accordance with Executive Order 20-96, effective Friday, November 13, 2020, at 10:00 p.m.:

     

    https://mn.gov/governor/assets/EO%2020-96%20%28FINAL%29_tcm1055-453017.pdf

     

    1)       Business Hours, lawful gambling may only be conducted until 10 p.m.;

    2)       In Places of Public Accommodation (including bars, restaurants, bingo halls*) capacity is limited to 50% of capacity, not to exceed 150 people;

    3)       Follow social distancing requirements within establishments; and

    4)       Paddlewheel with Table may not be conducted under the guidelines established in the EO.

    *EO 20-96 Paragraph 7 (vi)


  • 02 Nov 2020 13:41 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    ACM Attorney Mary Magnuson has reviewed the proposed changes.

    DOR has recently published proposed rules governing the annual audits.  The proposal appears to be a much needed update to the rules to incorporate the statutory changes that have occurred over the past several years.  As a result, DOR has asked for an exemption from the usual rulemaking process under the “good cause” exemption. The good cause exemption applies to rule changes that merely reflect changes in the statutes where no interpretation by the department is necessary.  Comments must be received not later than 4:30 pm on November 2, 2020.  You can access the proposed rules as well as the Findings and Supporting Reasons statement  at:  https://lnks.gd/l/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJidWxsZXRpbl9saW5rX2lkIjoxMDIsInVyaSI6ImJwMjpjbGljayIsImJ1bGxldGluX2lkIjoiMjAyMDEwMjYuMjkzNzU4OTEiLCJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczovL2NvbnRlbnQuZ292ZGVsaXZlcnkuY29tL2F0dGFjaG1lbnRzL01OUkVWLzIwMjAvMTAvMjIvZmlsZV9hdHRhY2htZW50cy8xNTc2OTQwL05vdGljZSUyMG9mJTIwU3VibWlzc2lvbiUyMC0lMjBNaW5uLiUyMFIuJTIwODEyMiUyMCUyOHdpdGglMjBleGhpYml0cyUyOS5wZGYifQ.zJ-aWvxE1XkIucaoU42lBNfjqrKzQYiSqaiwX_AmhqU/s/109486324/br/87394268161-l

     

    The proposed rules have been submitted to the Office of Administrative Hearings for review.


  • 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

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