State Sen. Sonny Borrelli is taking a stab at simplifying the rules for getting a bingo license while allowing licensed operations to hold bingo games every day if they so choose.
Borrelli introduced Senate Bill 1018 last week, which would eliminate the three classes of bingo licenses that are currently in use, replacing them with a single license for all bingo operations. The bill also proposed raising the number of days per week that a licensed operation can host bingo from five to seven.
“It is just basically streamlining the process for the people that host the bingo, and the Department of Revenue,” Borrelli said. “It is just cutting red tape, reducing regulation, and streamlining process.”
Borrelli, the Senate majority whip said the Department of Revenue first brought up the issue with him.
The problem stems from various bingo parlors that have two licenses for two separate nonprofits at the same location. Borrelli said many times both operations are run by the same people.
As an example, Borrelli said a senior center that wants to host a bingo game every day would have to apply for two licenses in order to be allowed seven days of bingo per week, rather than only five.
“There are places in Phoenix that stack licenses so that they can play seven days a week, extended hours, and stuff like that,” Borrelli said. “So we just want to license one place because it is less accounting that the Department of Revenue has to deal with. We have all this extra work and it is really not worth it, so let’s just make one license.”
The proposed single license would require an annual body fee of $25, a license fee of $50, and a 2 percent tax on gross receipts, replacing the current structure which has different fees associated with each class of license.
Stacking licenses isn’t an issue for any of the licensed bingo games in Lake Havasu City. The Knights of Columbus hosts bingo two days a week while the Masonic Lodge, St. Michael’s United Methodist Church, and the Elks Lodge all host bingo once a week.
Denise Robbins, bingo manager for the Elks Lodge, said she wasn’t aware that there was a limit to the number of days that the Elks Lodge could hold bingo. Robbins said bingo games at the Elks Lodge are limited to once per week due to the availability of the space but she appreciated the flexibility the proposed bill would provide.
“I do like the freedom of being able to say that I would like to have it every day,” she said.
Robbins was less excited about the change in fees that would take effect if the bill were passed in the upcoming legislative session. With a Class B license, the Elks Lodge’s annual body fee and license fee of $25 and $50 would remain unchanged, but the tax on gross receipts would rise 0.5 percent.
Robbins said those additional tax dollars would have to come out of the monthly donations made by the Elks Lodge.
“We are not for profit, we do it for charity,” Robbin said. “So I don’t like the fact that it is increasing our fee.”
Organizations with a Class A license would see its body fee of $5 and license fee of $10 rise, but its tax rate would fall by 0.5 percent. A Class C bingo parlor’s tax rate would be unchanged, but the body fee of $50 and license fee of $200 would drop considerably under the proposed bill.