Democratic Candidate for Ohio Governor Ed FitzGerald (courtesy: edfitzgeraldforohio.com)
The battle for the Ohio Statehouse continues to heat up, as the Buckeye State prepares for the race between incumbent Governor John Kasich and Democrat Candidate Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. While there are many issues that will affect voters statewide, one of the most important for Ohio’s veterans concerns how lodges and posts are able to raise funds to support their locations and local charities. To that end, Executive FitzGerald thinks that removing electronic charitable raffle machines could be a death sentence for many veterans and fraternal groups in Ohio.
“You have to say ‘do you really want to say good-bye to those organizations as a whole?’ Because that’s what’s going to happen,” FitzGerald said. “That’s what I’ve committed to, is to say, look, if you’re going to take that revenue stream away from them, what is going to replace it?” FitzGerald said he recently began studying the issue and has not yet made any policy pronouncements.
The answer, according to Kasich, is the Ohio Lottery’s plan to put 1,200 electronic slot machines into lodges and posts, but many veterans, as well as the Executive Board of the OVFC, vehemently oppose that plan, since it puts the majority of profit to Intralot, a Greek company, as opposed to the posts and lodges:
Forty percent, or about $7 million, would go to the lodges and posts from the new machines. Many vets oppose the lottery plan because they say their own electronic raffle games provide a greater payoff.
While House Bill 325 has stalled in the Ohio Legislature, the stance of a gubernatorial candidate supporting veterans and fraternal organizations is certainly something to consider when heading to the polls this fall.
The 2014 General Midterm Elections are November 4th.
The Late Nichelle McKnight and her son, Zaden (courtesy WDTN-Dayton)
The continuing, tragic story of Nichelle McKnight, an Air Force Reservest, who, along with her son Jaden, was murdered, has shown not only how a tragedy can bring a community together, but also how a community can pay back one of its members. The local VFW chapter, Huber Heights #3283, already paid for McKnight’s funeral, but the Post has stepped up in a huge way, also putting the money forward to cover the cost of a bronze headstone.
The ongoing legal fight between the OVFCC and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office took a turn in favor of the Veterans and Fraternal groups late last week, as the Franklin County Common Pleas Judge in the case ruled against the Attorney General’s motion to dismiss the case. In so doing, the OVFCC’s case should continue to trial, with a major battle in its favor.
While McIntosh’s ruling is preliminary, it could foreshadow a future decision. He concludes that electronic raffle machines are bingo games which are “conducted by licensed organizations for charitable purposes,” and thus are not prohibited by state law.
The case will likely continue to trial later this year, as members of the OVFCC continue to seek legal recourse for continuing to support local charities and organizations using the funds raised with the OVFCC program and the electronic charitable gaming machines the Coalition provides.
Program will highlight differences between charitable video raffle and Ohio Lottery programs
In the coming Saturdays in May and early June, veterans and fraternal leaders will be offering informational sessions on charitable video gaming throughout Ohio. Leaders and legal counsel from the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition (OVFCC) will update post and lodge leaders on the OVFCC’s charitable video raffle program, as well as the Ohio Lottery’s new video gaming program. The sessions will offer information and answer questions on the legality, revenues, and differences between the two gaming programs.
All post and lodge leaders are encouraged to attend an event in their region in order to hear the latest on video gaming at our posts and lodges and to ask any questions they might have.
Columbus, Ohio (April 24, 2014) – The Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition (OVFCC) announced Thursday that its video raffle program has now raised over $8 million for Ohio charities. These funds directly benefit veterans posts, fraternal lodges and hundreds of local 501c3 charities, with 50% going to veteran’s posts/lodges and 50% going to local 501c3 charities in communities across Ohio. In addition, a portion of the money raised by the OVFCC goes to fund veterans service officers who assist Ohio veterans in filing benefits claims with the Veterans Administration. Last year these veterans service officers helped return over $50 million in federal funds to Ohio’s veterans in need. Funding in jeopardy because of Governor Kasich’s opposition
But this critical funding is in jeopardy because of Governor Kasich’s opposition to the video raffle program. Attorney General Mike DeWine asked that veterans and fraternal groups seek legislation to clarify the law regarding video forms of raffle. But House Bill 325 (sponsored by Rep. Rick Perales) is stalled in the House Policy Committee due to opposition by Governor Kasich in favor of a Lottery Commission gaming system that directs critical funds away from local charities and into state coffers and the Lottery’s Greek-based vendor Intralot. “We can’t figure out why Governor Kasich wants to take funding away from Ohio’s veterans in need and local community charities. All this will do is help Intralot and their powerful lobbyists make a bunch of money on an outrageously overpriced $22 million Lottery gaming system that we believe is unconstitutional,” said Bill Seagraves, Director of the OVFCC and VFW of Ohio Charities. Just this week, funds from the video raffle program were used to pay the funeral expenses for a Dayton area Air Force reservist who was recently murdered and whose son is still missing. Click here to see Dayton television news story about how funds for initiatives like this are in jeopardy due to the Governor’s opposition. Court order allows video raffle program to continue
As a result of Governor Kasich’s opposition, veterans and fraternal organizations have filed suit against the state and have been granted a temporary restraining order by the Franklin County courts, enabling posts and lodges to continue operating video raffles without interference from state agencies while the court considers the suit. “We are still hopeful that the Governor will realize that his opposition to House Bill 325 could have a detrimental effect on veterans, charities and local communities,” said Seagraves. “It’s disappointing that our legislative leaders aren’t willing to move this legislation without the Governor’s support. We believe existing law is on our side and the courts will ultimately rule in our favor. But this whole mess could be avoided if the Governor would drop his opposition and legislative leaders would simply do their job instead of forcing us to ask the courts to determine public policy.”
Dayton’s NBC Affiliate, WDTN, already covered the VFW of Ohio Charities’ recent decision to fund the funeral of Nichelle McKnight, who was supposedly murdered within the last month.
Now, WDTN’s Jackie Sprague reports that the source for that funding, raised mostly through the OVFCC’s electronic raffle program, could be at risk if Governor John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine continue to oppose and House Bill 325.
The goal of the OVFCC is to support charities and communities by supporting veterans and fraternal groups across the state. Without the OVFCC, the VFW of Ohio Charities might not have had the funds available to cover the funeral and burial costs for one of their own. For reasons like this, and for many, many others, HB 325, the bill that clarifies existing law with regard to charitable bingo in the state of Ohio, must be passed by the Ohio House and Senate, and then signed into law by Ohio Governor John Kasich.