Longietti: Bill to help service clubs survive passes General Assembly

Would permit full use of Small Games of Chance revenue during pandemic

HARRISBURG, Nov. 20 – Local clubs and service organizations struggling to survive would receive a lifeline under a bill passed today that would permit them to use 100% of their Small Games of Chance revenue toward operating expenses for a limited time during the pandemic, state Rep. Mark Longietti announced.

Longietti, D-Mercer, said he co-sponsored H.B. 777 – which passed the General Assembly unanimously and now heads to the governor’s desk – to help ensure the survival of these organizations that play such an important role in the community.

“Many of these organizations are facing a fight to survive as the pandemic has driven up costs while drying up revenue sources,” Longietti said. “To compound the problem, these clubs are unable to access small business assistance programs because they are nonprofit organizations.

“Over the years, clubs have used Small Games of Chance revenue to support dozens of local charitable and community causes, from Little League teams to food banks. Current law requires service clubs to return 60% of this gaming revenue to charitable causes while keeping 40% for themselves. Given the effects of the pandemic, which has left these organizations on the brink of folding, that income is not enough.

“The bill passed today allows clubs to tap into that 60% of additional revenue and use it for operating expenses such as rent, utilities and payroll. Considering how much these organizations do for the community, it’s critical that we help them survive. They have been there for us in a dozen different ways; now we need to be there for them.”

Longietti said the bill would allow licensed clubs – including VFWs, American Legions and fraternal clubs – to use 100% of their Small Games of Chance revenue to cover operating expenses dating back to Jan. 1, 2020, and going forward to one year after the expiration of the emergency declaration.

The bill passed the House in May, and the Senate passed an amended version yesterday. The House today concurred in those amendments, and the bill now heads to the governor.