70 Arkansas Groups Ready to Hold Legalized Bingo and Raffles

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Dallas County Museum is one of the first organizations to apply for a license to conduct charitable bingo, but the museum's volunteer director said she doesn't know if she'll actually host any games.

Agnes Phillips, the director of the Foryce museum, says she's constantly searching for ways to keep the museum going.

Rules allowing organizations to hold bingo and raffles for charity don't go into effect until the end of this month, but the prospect has already attracted groups from around the state.  So far, the state has licensed 70 organizations to operate some form of bingo or raffles and has licensed five companies to manufacture or distribute bingo cards and equipment.

Most of the groups licensed so far said they planned to hold regular bingo games and includes groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Knights of Columbus.

A constitutional amendment allowing established charities to run raffles and bingos won 69 percent of the vote last year.

Some groups haven't waited until July 31 to start their games.  The AMVETS 63 Post in Jonesboro has been holding regular bingo games since March, before legislators had even approved the rules.  Post Commander Mark McQueen would not say how often the post holds the games, but said it was more than two nights a week allowed under the law passed.

McQueen said he plans to scale back the operation to twice a week to conform with the rules when they take effect.  McQueen and other groups have complained about the regulations, which include a penny tax on bingo cards and ten percent tax on the sale of other bingo equipment.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)