AUSTIN (CBS 11 I-TEAM) – Big changes are in store for Charitable Bingo in Texas.
The whole point of the program is to help non-profits raise money for their causes. But after months of investigating the state-run agency, the CBS 11 I-Team uncovered charity bingo was helping very few charities.
In 2013, the Texas bingo industry brought in $719 million dollars. But more than 200 of the participating charities and organizations that are supposed to benefit from the game, walked away with less than $100 dollars that same year.
Nicki Boyte with is with Adapt, a non-profit organization in Austin that helps people with disabilities. Adapt does some of their fundraising through Charitable Bingo.
“We are not having a catered lunches at our office. But it does help pay the light bill,” Boyte said.
Being able to keep the lights on isn’t what charity bingo is supposed to be about.
“What are we doing to make sure our charities get some benefit from bingo,” Senator Charles Schwertner, co-chair if the joint Lottery Committee, asked in today’s meeting.
Senator Schwertner suggested several times today that charities should receive a 5% flat distribution from bingo, pulled from the gross revenues.
Two groups that represent different charities, The Bingo Interest Group and Texas Charity Advocates, argued that while they are for reform, the money should come from the fees the state imposes on the program.
After hours of testimony from all sides, it was clear the committee was prepared to move forward on recommending an overhaul of the state run program.
“We have work to do members, in reference to this particular issue I believe,” Schwertner added.
Boyte admits her organization isn’t making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year off bingo.
So, she understands the need for more oversight and better benefits. But she warns about going to far.
“My fear is, just don’t over react,” Boyte told us.
In the next few months, the committee will work on their final recommendation based on testimony heard at the state capitol today. And there’s a good chance several bills will be filed that will overhaul Charitable Bingo.
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