The Delaware General Assembly has passed a bill that would allow American Legion, VFW and other veterans' and fraternal organizations to have up to 20 video lottery games at their individual posts under state supervision until late June as a stopgap measure.
The veterans groups and others had to cease using gambling machines determined to be illegal by the Delaware Department of of Safety and Homeland Security in late October. Veterans groups and others were incensed that the state letter came three to four days after the general election in early November.
Hundreds of members of American Legion, VFW, Elks and Moose lodge members and others marched around Legislative Hall Jan. 10 to petition state legislators to reinstate the use of gambling machines at their organizations.
House Bill 1 was then passed within two weeks to create a way for the nonprofit groups to legally use charitable video lottery machines in the interim in order to support their operations and charitable activities. House Bill 1 was passed by the Delaware House of Representatives on Jan. 23 and the Delaware Senate on Jan. 24, just before both houses broke for the six-week Join Finance Committee hearings scheduled to be heard.
The bill was sponsored by State Rep. John Atkins (D-Millsboro) and co-sponsors included, among others, House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach).
The bill has been forwarded to the desk of Gov. Jack Markell for his signature.
The Non-profit Coalition of Delaware formed to legalize lottery machines at American Legions, VFWs and other organizations throughout the Diamond State and the Office of the Governor had met Jan. 21 to continue talks on restoring the use of lottery machines after negotiations appeared to hit a roadblock the week before.
Coalition Chairman Jeffrey Crouser, American Legion Post 2 adjutant, had said the negotiations were done in good faith.
But, the bill was passed only as an interim measure. If enacted by Markell, the legislation would only grant the use of video lottery machines by fraternal organizations until June 30, 2013. At that time, the amendment to Title 29 of Delaware Code would sunset.
Eligible charitable organizations would apply for and receive approval from the Delaware director of the lottery in order to operate such machines, as laid forth by the legislation. The bill, if enacted, would also require at least 50 percent of the total proceeds received from such video lottery machines to be "returned to the players under rules prescribed by the director."
The fraternal organizations would turn over 43.5 percent of what was left to the state.