HJ-ED-DHJ

September 24, 2007

LP Legion among groups affected by stronger gambling enforcement

Legion will return money to football pool ticket holders

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

They may be common, they may support good causes, but one thing football boards are not is legal, as several local organizations recently learned.

Commander Chester Hoernemann of the Ray Kirkpatrick American Legion Post 463 in Lester Prairie announced last week that the Legion has been ordered by the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to return all money it received for its annual Legion Baseball football pool fundraiser.

The news was a major blow to the Legion, because this was the post’s only current fundraiser, and accounted for 100 percent of the group’s revenue apart from membership dues, Hoernemann said.

“We have to do something. We are looking into other forms of legal gambling, and we are weighing our options at this time,” he added.

No charges will be filed, and Post 463 is cooperating fully with the directive, according to Hoernemann.

“I am sure there are a lot of rumors out there, so I want to straighten this out as well as I can,” Hoernemann said.

He explained that the Legion will issue a check in the amount of $25 to the person named on each ticket stub.

“We need the checks cashed as soon as possible, since the state needs to match every ticket stub with a cashed check. We ask that everyone cooperate with us to resolve this issue,” Hoernemann said.

“Post 463 fully intends to continue raising funds for American Legion Baseball, Lester Prairie Schools Safety Patrol, County Student Government Day, and other worthwhile charities by obtaining appropriate gambling permits for other forms of fundraising,” he added.

The special agent working the case has offered to advise the Legion as to what permits it needs to acquire to operate legally under state law.

“Anyone who has donated for ticket books or received a book as a gift can expect a check within a few weeks. Legion Post 463 apologizes for any inconvenience or confusion to our supporters, and appreciates their help in resolving this problem,” Hoernemann said.

Other local organizations are affected

Hoernemann said it is his understanding that a person from another organization that used the same printer for tickets was selling books in an establishment that was a legal gambling site.

A complaint was filed with the Gambling Control Board (GCB), and, as a result of that investigation, all of the organizations that were selling the books were contacted and asked to return the money they had collected.

Hoernemann said Post 463 has 200 books to account for, and it is his understanding that some of the organizations involved may have as many as 1,500 books to account for.

Special Agent Jeff Nylen of the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division explained the problem with the boards.

“The 100-number grid Vikings board is an illegal lottery, pure and simple. It is not one of the five forms of lawful gambling (pull tabs, paddlewheels, tip boards, raffles, and bingo) authorized by the state statute and regulated by the GCB. There simply is no permit available to conduct these boards legally,” Nylen explained.

Other groups were conducting the same type of football-related lottery in the region.

Two of those groups obtained exempt raffle permit numbers from the GCB and had them printed on their Vikings books.

The result, according to Nylen, was confusion due to the mistaken impression that the operation was licensed and legitimate.

Had the GCB known the true nature of the fundraisers planned by the groups, it would not have issued permit numbers to the groups, Nylen explained.

He added that he plans to refer the two groups for civil sanction by the GCB once his involvement in the criminal investigation ends.

Need to know more?

More specific questions about gambling can be directed to:

Gambling Control Board, 1711 West County Road B, Roseville, MN, 55113, (651) 639-4000, www.gcb.state.mn.us.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (651) 201-7540, www.dps.state.mn.us/alcgamb/alcgamb.aspx.


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