Contributions to civic and community causes from the Backus American Legion Charitable Gaming Partnership totaled $14,902 in 2012, with education topping the list of donations.
Education support included $4,000, or $400 post-secondary scholarships to 10 Pine-River Backus students, and another $1,150 for community and family education, extra-curricular and safe graduation programs.
Total donations were down just slightly, $447, from 2011’s total of $15,349. While charitable gambling receipts declined for several years, the decline appears to have leveled off and the Legion has budgeted an increase in donations for the upcoming year.
The post did increase its food shelf donations in 2012, awarding an extra $500 and raising the total grants to the Pine River and Hackensack area food shelves to $1,500.
Other funding highlights included $1,150 for youth recreation, including maintaining the post’s ballfield complex for use by area youth; $500 for the summer-long Hackensack area Youth Fishing Contest; $1,350 in aid to distressed families, the ill and disabled and child safety; $1,400 to area community festivals, including $1,200 to the Backus Corn Fest and $200 for Hackensack fireworks; $1,536 for Veterans Administration hospitals, veterans activities, memorials and flags and support of active duty troops; $1,326 for support of Backus fire and rescue operations; and $650 for children’s holiday parties.
State and federal taxes continue to consume a considerable amount of local and statewide charitable gaming dollars. The post paid $11,100 in state taxes and fees and $1,884 in federal revenues. The state of Minnesota continues to be the largest single recipient of post gaming revenues. Since 1991 the Backus Legion has paid $610,757 in state and federal taxes.
Donations to education, civic and community organizations, needy families, youth recreation, active duty troop units and veteran’s programs during that period have totaled $684,377.
Changes in charitable gambling enacted by the 2012 Minnesota Legislature included authorization of electronic pulltab games to help pay for the new Vikings stadium and sports themed numbers boards. However, licensing of electronic distributors has fallen behind schedule and most charitable organizations have been unable to get vital information on operational and capital costs and requirements — and device availability.
That, and the fact that paper pulltabs are popular with the public, has resulted in a slow start for electronic tabs and a “wait and see” attitude by the majority of charitable gaming sponsors.
The state Gambling Board also used its authority under the law to ban the use of sports numbers boards, claiming federal law only allows certain “grandfathered” states to have any sports related gambling.
That decision was disappointing to Allied Charities of Minnesota, the umbrella group representing the charitable gaming industry. Some states are considering challenging the constitutionality of the law because it does not treat all states equally, or getting Congress to overturn it.
In addition, the state Gambling Control Board Feb. 19 postponed the implementation of electronic, linked bingo, also passed by the 2012 Legislature with the intent of boosting charitable gaming profits and funding stadium construction.
The Backus Legion Charitable Gaming Partnership includes the Legion, Willard’s Saloon and Eatery and Triolo’s Restaurant and Lounge
“We continue to be thankful for the community’s support of our charitable gaming operations,’’ said Post Commander Bill Taylor. “And we hope improved conditions in the industry, plus our own management and budgeting efforts, will help our bottom line so that we can maintain and increase our support of charitable causes in our communities.”