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Archive for Saturday, April 1, 1995

BALLOT INCLUDES BINGO QUESTION

April 1, 1995

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Voters will be asked Tuesday at the polls whether they want to legalize "instant" or pull-tab bingo games in Kansas.

"Instant" bingo has proven its popularity with Kansans -- non-profit groups reaped about $10 million in sales last year.

But the pull-tab games, which were approved by the Kansas Legislature in 1993, were put on ice in December when the Kansas Supreme Court ruled they were not actually bingo at all, but a form of lottery.

On Tuesday, state voters will decide whether they want to allow the games to continue to be offered in church basements and fraternal organization halls.

"I don't think there's any huge outcry from the public to stop it at all," said Rep. Garry Boston, R-Newton, who chairs the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.

Boston predicted Saturday that the measure probably would be approved because it's non-controversial and is backed by organizations already running regular bingo games.

Currently, the Kansas Constitution permits non-profit and charitable groups to run bingo games. But the constitution does not define what bingo is.

In 1993, the Legislature redefined bingo so it covered the instant, or pull-tab, games.

In such games, a player pulls a tab off a card and finds out instantly whether he or she has won.

Non-profit groups began the games as soon as the law changed.

In December, the state Supreme Court ruled that instant bingo was a form of lottery. Under the constitution, only the state is authorized to operate a lottery.

Boston said his committee looked into the issue earlier this year. Non-profit groups told his committee the game was very popular and had brought in $10 million in sales last year.

Supporters included church groups, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, Boston said.

"It seems everybody has done real well," Boston said. "It seems like there was almost as many sales on instant bingo as there was regular bingo last year."

The pull-tab tickets are packaged and sealed in a kit, which is sold by vendors to the various groups. The state collects sales tax on the kits when they are sold, he said.

After the Supreme Court ruling, the Department of Revenue suspended sales of the tickets to non-profit and charitable groups.

"It looked like the best way to get this addressed was to get it put on the ballot," Boston said.

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