Alabama County Wants Background Checks for Bingo Operators

By Michael Klazema on 7/27/2016

The average person may not think of bingo as a pursuit regulated by background checks, but such is the case in Calhoun County, Alabama. According to a report from the county's Anniston Star, the Calhoun County Bingo Regulatory Commission wants background checks for bingo game operators. The commission has two applications from contractors who want to operate bingo games in the area but is declining to review them until the applicants submit to background checks.

According to the Anniston Star, the chairperson of the Regulatory Commission proposed the background checks after state lawmakers raised the county's bingo payouts to $1-million games. The Regulatory Commission want to make sure that the high payouts aren't drawing in individuals who would seek to defraud the county and make off with a jackpot.

The Regulatory Commission's chairperson says he wants background checks "on anyone receiving a salary." He wants the background checks to include criminal history checks and investigations of whether or not the contractors in question have ever owned or overseen any gambling operations.

According to reporters, how those background checks would work practically is complicated. The contractors applying to operate bingo games are not individuals, but rather organizations. State law only allows nonprofit organizations to operate bingo games. Precisely who would have to submit to background checks is unclear. Reports have not yet indicated whether everyone working for the nonprofits would be required to go through background checks or only people who would be handling bingo equipment and directly overseeing games.

The initial decision to increase bingo payouts from $120,000 to $1 million made Calhoun County's bingo scene eight times more lucrative. The chairperson of the Regulatory Commission has stated his concerns that someone operating a bingo game could manipulate the equipment to rig payouts or get away with other illegal dealings.

So far, the Regulatory Commission hasn't approved any new applications to launch bingo operations since the maximum payout though it has received them. Coverage reports increased interest from additional nonprofits in operating bingo rooms. The two organizations whose applications are pending—the Sable Learning Center located in Hobson City and the Piedmont Athletic Booster Club in Piedmont—may be the first affected by the proposed background check rule.



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