Sainato: Legislature passes bill to help veterans, fraternal clubs during pandemic

Would allow clubs full use of Small Games of Chance revenue

NEW CASTLE, Nov. 20 – Veterans and fraternal clubs and other service organizations struggling to meet operating expenses during the pandemic are one step closer to greater relief after the General Assembly passed a bill that would allow these clubs to use all revenue from Small Games of Chance temporarily, state Rep. Chris Sainato announced today.

Sainato, D-Lawrence, said he co-sponsored H.B. 777 – which passed the House unanimously today and heads to the governor – to help these organizations stay afloat while revenue is scarce.

“Our local VFWs, American Legions and other fraternal clubs do so much for our community,” Sainato said. “From a social standpoint, they are beloved places for veterans and other like-minded residents to gather, but they are also so much more. For decades, they have been a reliable source of support for charitable community causes and events.

“Now, most have been ravaged by the pandemic, which has dried up sources of revenue, and are struggling just to stay alive. Currently, the law requires clubs to give 60% of their Small Games of Chance revenue to charity and permits them to keep the remaining 40%, but under current circumstances, it’s not enough to help these service organizations keep going.

“The bill we passed today would allow clubs to tap into the remaining 60% of that money and use it to pay employees, rent, utilities and other basic operating expenses. It’s a way to help them survive so they can continue being there for the community in years to come.”

Sainato said the bill would allow licensed clubs to use the full Small Games of Chance revenue to cover operating expenses dating back to Jan. 1 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.