I wanted to relate something to you that has been troubling me. In the not too distant past I had two legislators tell me that they would like to better understand what charitable gaming organizations do with the money that we raise. The first time this was said to me I thought it was an honest request for more information. The second time I realized that it was not an isolated incident, but something that must be being circulating at the legislature.
I believe that the people that do not want any change in the status quo for licensed charitable gaming organizations are planting seeds of doubt as to whether or not we are being good stewards of the money that we raise. They are doing this by talking about our seventh consecutive fiscal year dollar sales increase (I can’t understand why they constantly complain when their sales just keep going up.). Talking about how few of us are paying the high taxes (Really only a small percentage of them pay the high taxes.). Talking about how qualified 501’s can transfer funds (Did you know that some of them pay themselves?). Talking about pay (Did you know that there are gambling managers who actually get paid?). All of this is designed to negate/counter our concerns over how we are treated by the state.
The message that I want to leave with you today is this: WE CANNOT DO ANYTHING THAT IS NOT EXPRESSLY APPROVED IN RULE OR STATUTE. Contrast that with MN Lottery operating under the assumption that they can do anything not expressly prohibited in statute. If the state does not like a provision that we currently operate under they can work to change that, but people need to stop making it seem like we are making it up as we go along. There is NO ONE that would trade with us for our laws, regulations or tax structure. Just ask the for-profit gambling competitors if they would and see what they say.
I could take (NOT ACCEPT) the state telling us that there will be no tax relief, that we will just have to come to grips with paying for the stadium for the next 25 years. Better that than implying that we are operating in a gray area, on the fringes of society and that is why no changes will be forthcoming for us.
I have sent the donations that were made in the legislator’s districts to the legislators in question. The lists impressed me greatly. The work that you folks do for little or no pay and even less recognition is in my eyes amazing. If you have not already done so, share your 2016 donations with your legislators. What we do and how we do it is not easily explained to those unfamiliar with charitable gaming, it takes time and effort. Legislators need to fully understand that you and your organizations are assets to your community and to the state, not liabilities. Do not apologize for what you do to help your communities or missions. If we do not stand up and defend what we do, it will someday be taken from us.
There is nobody that can tell your organization’s story better than you can. Do it for your organization, your community and yourself. Do it today.