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A modified Bingo bill would have helped county

Citing a bad environment for anything relating to gambling, a bill introduced in the current legislative session by Rep Charles Newton (D-Greenville) that would have legalized bingo for charity and educational purposes has been withdrawn.

The Butler County American Legion Post was the impetus for the proposed legislation that would have allowed the Legion to conduct charity bingo games with 100 percent of the net revenues mostly going, they said, toward funding scholarships for local children.

While we agree the basic wording of the bill, which would not have allowed the Legion to contract with or pay anyone to run the games or concessions was sound, it could have included provisions that put a cap on winnings and better defined what type of bingo games were allowed. Currently there are several casinos in the state that have what we consider to be slot machines in place operating under the guise of bingo games. We would not support such in Butler County, but do understand the motivation behind what the Legion and Newton were trying to accomplish.

Everyone agrees, including Christian Coalition President John Giles who vehemently opposes any gambling agenda, that Newton's motives were sound in introducing the legislation. The people of Butler County could have no finer person serving us in the legislature than Charles Newton, and the personal attacks many propagated on him in response to his attempt to allow a group of 70-something war veterans raise money for charity is irresponsible and improper.

Newton's bill was modeled after Covington County's legislation that has been in existence for more than 30 years. There, Legionnaires have given more than $250,000 in scholarships and veteran's assistance in the past five years, something that could be good for students in Butler County. One could also argue that money being spent on old-fashioned, card style bingo games could possibly be going toward vices such as alcohol and tobacco that generate no good in our community.