Gaming Committee approves bill to keep service clubs afloat

ERIE, May 6 – A bill approved yesterday by the House Gaming Oversight Committee would help bolster local service clubs that have been forced to close their doors during the pandemic by allowing them to tap into a greater share of gaming revenue to fund operating expenses, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced. 

Merski, a committee member who joined in the unanimous vote, said H.B. 777 would allow service organizations that raise money for charity to use 100% of the revenue they receive from small games of chance to fund operating expenses during an emergency disaster. Under current law, 60% of that revenue goes to charity, and the other 40% remains with the clubs. 

“These service clubs reflect the heart of our community – they’re gathering spots for our veterans and places for residents to connect and raise money for charity and community projects,” Merski said. “But when the pandemic struck and forced them to close their doors, they lost the revenue they need to survive. 

“I supported this bill because it would throw these organizations a lifeline by allowing them to keep all the revenue they raise during times of emergency and use it for operating expenses such as rent, payroll and utilities. That way, when our local businesses reopen and activities resume, these vital clubs that do so much for our community will come back to life, as well.” 

The bill next heads to the House for consideration.