Charity gaming generates $1 million

Photos by Matthew Busch/The Herald
Joe Wagner sold pull tabs to Ann Hochgesang, both of Jasper, during weekly bingo night at American Legion Post 147 in Jasper on Wednesday. Post 147 has an annual bingo license to host bingo games, which take place at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Herald Staff Writer

Local nonprofit organizations generated almost $1.1 million in profit in fiscal year 2012 from activities that required state gaming licenses.

The Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand was among 15 Dubois County groups that had a raffle license during that time period, which allowed them to have raffles throughout the year. The sisters have a raffle during their annual Dome Classic golf scramble in late summer.

“This area is very supportive,” said Sister Jean Marie Ballard, treasurer for the Sisters of St. Benedict. “They greatly support the sisters.”

Every five years, the sisters also get a license for their Summer Social; the last social was held July 7.

According to the Indiana Gaming Commission’s annual financial report released last month, covering July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, the sisters generated $63,499 from their raffle license and had $31,138 in expenses, leaving their proceeds at $32,361. The sisters’ report for the social is not included in the numbers.

The monastery uses the money generated to support the retired sisters.

“For our retired sisters, many worked in situations where there was no retirement plan,” Sr. Jean Marie said. “Whatever we can do to address those needs, we do. The money raised helps us to do that.”

Some of the money goes to capital improvements, but still for the benefit of the retired sisters. For instance, in the early1990s, proceeds were used to renovate St. Benedict Hall, which is where retired sisters live.

St. Celestine Church in Celestine uses its festival license for its annual shooting match, held in October.

“I was just working on that application,” church bookkeeper Denise Buechler said Friday. “You have to get that in place early if you want to sell tickets early.”

Sue Cleveland, left, threw away a used bingo card as she and friend Ann Hochgesang, right, both of Jasper, played bingo during the weekly bingo night at American Legion Post 147 in Jasper on Wednesday.

The license, which costs $50, covers various games of chance, including bingo and raffles. The games of chance attract people to the annual fundraiser in addition to those who want to participate in the shooting matches.

And that, in turn, greatly helps the church, which has used the proceeds for utilities and maintenance of the property and the church building.

“The money is vital,” Buechler said. “You’re getting money from parishioners as well as people who aren’t church members who come to your event. The proceeds from that helps out tremendously.”

For the 2011 shoot,St. Celestine reported to the state earnings that totaled $66,847 and expenses of $29,267. That generated $37,580 in profit for the church.

St. Joseph Church in Jasper also has a festival license for its annual summer picnic, which is held on the first Sunday in June. Last year, the church generated $62,928 through the games of chance, for which a gaming license is required, and spent $13,922, leaving a net of $49,006.
The church’s money goes into a picnic fund and is set aside for maintenance.

“We do that so that we don’t have to put money into the regular budget” for maintenance, parish manager Jane Gehlhausen said. “This year, we are refinishing the pews, so the proceeds will go to that.”

Having the money available helps when there is an emergency. “Last summer our bells got struck by lightning and it was going to cost several thousand dollars to get the replacement electronic parts. That was something that we didn’t expect,” Gehlhausen said. “We had extra funds in our picnic account to cover that.”

The state offers 13 kinds of charity gaming licences. Total receipts from charity gaming licenses throughout the state for fiscal year 2012 were $464,883,400, a little less than fiscal year 2011’s total of $485,784,218 and fiscal year 2008’s $513,429,156.

But charity gaming is holding its own a little better than the 13 casinos in Indiana, which are reporting lower profits, according to The Associated Press. Indiana had tax revenue of $496.5 million from its casinos during the 2012 budget year.

As recently as 2008, Indiana’s casino revenue totaled nearly $583 million, but at the same time there has been an increase in the number of casinos in neighboring states. Experts say any correlation between the increase of charity casinos and the trouble at permanent casinos might be hard to assess.

“We’ve looked at some of that over the years, and the impact has not been as pronounced as you might assume,” said Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight, which tracks gambling in the state.

Along with the 15 raffle licenses in Dubois County, 16 organizations had annual raffle licenses, 11 had festival licenses, four had annual bingo licenses, one had a charity night license, two had annual charity night licenses and one had a door prizes license.


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