Coon Rapids allowing more charitable gambling permits

There will soon be an increase in the number of lawful gambling premise permits an organization can have in Coon Rapids.

The Coon Rapids City Council will consider adoption of an ordinance Wednesday, Feb. 5 (the council’s normal Tuesday, Feb. 4 meeting date is precinct caucus night) that will increase the number of lawful gambling premise permits each organization can obtain from three to five.

The ordinance was introduced by unanimous vote of the council Jan. 21.

However, the council will limit the number of manned pull-tab booth permits to three per organization under the new language in the ordinance; the two additional locations are for pull-tab dispensing devices.

The council had agreed to the gambling permit increase at a work session Dec. 17, 2013 following a request from the Coon Rapids Lions Club, which had received permit approval from the city in February 2013 to operate a pull-tab dispensing device at MGM Liquor Warehouse.

“Pull-tab dispensing devices dispense paper pull-tabs without the need for a staff person,” said City Clerk Cathy Sorensen.

“Winnings are collected through the store location clerk, thereby decreasing staffing needs to the organization.”

According to Sorensen, the council limited the number of premise permits to three back in 2003 to allow for more diversity of organizations in the city.

The Lions club is one of six organizations that have lawful gambling premise licenses in the city.

Together with the Coon Rapids Mat Bandits Wrestling Club, the Lions have the current maximum of three permits, while the Coon Rapids National Little League and Coon Rapids Youth Hockey Association have two each and the Coon Rapids American Legion and Coon Rapids VFW each have one at their respective locations.

Under state law, the number of pull-tab dispensing devices at any permitted location is limited to three, Sorensen told the council.

In requesting the increases in premise permits from the present three, Lyle Goff of the Coon Rapids Lions Club said at the December council work session it would not only benefit his club, but the other organizations in the city that have gambling license permits.

The Lions club uses the proceeds from gambling to fund charitable groups and programs and the goal is to bring in more revenues for the causes the club supports, he said.

According to Goff, the automated pull-tab machines are becoming more and more popular.

The only requirement with the automated pull-tab machine is that the organization with the permit maintains the machine and gives the business where the machine is located the money to pay out to pull-tab winners, Goff said.

In addition, at MGM Liquor Warehouse  the club pays the business a monthly fee to have the machine located there, he said.

Indeed, Goff said that Cub Foods stores have now started selling state lottery tickets through an automated machine.

Councilmembers at the December work session had no issues with increasing the number of gambling permits.

Gaming has changed, according to Councilmember Steve Wells.

Councilmember Bruce Sanders could see no reason not to allow an increase up to a combination of five, he said.

“We should do what we can to help organizations like the Lions club for the good of the city,” said Councilmember Ron Manning.

Since 2003, there are more and more locations in the city where gambling premise permits would be allowed, according to Mayor Tim Howe.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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