Charitable gaming in Bowling Green sees revenue decrease from expanded gaming

Bowling Green charitable gaming hall forced to close
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 5:33 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The American Legion has been involved with charitable gaming for a few years, but over the last couple of years, Post 23 has seen a revenue decrease of a couple of million dollars.

The revenue raised by charitable gaming by the American Legion is used to help community and veteran organizations provide services to people in need in and around Warren County. This money is raised from Bingo and electronic pull-tab machines and has been used to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving, provide shelter to the homeless, and college scholarships.

While some of the revenue loss can be attributed to lockdowns and social distancing restrictions during COVID, a significant part of the losses are due to expanded gambling and “gray machines.”

There are three forms of legal gaming in Kentucky:

  1. Parimutuel betting (controlled by the equestrian industry)
  2. Bingo
  3. Electronic Pull Tabs

Gray machines are similar in appearance to slot machines and are currently legal in Kentucky. Those that support these machines say that because winnings aren’t based on chance, they are not considered gambling. Those who oppose the machines also cite them for hurting the Kentucky Lottery.

These machines are usually found in smaller restaurants and gas stations. There are about 2,800 of these machines all over the state.

Two weeks ago, Malcolm Cherry, commander of American Legion Post 23, testified in front of the Kentucky Charitable Gaming Committee about the effect that gray machines have had here in Bowling Green. The committee is taking steps to remove these machines.

The loss of revenue has not only affected how much money the organization has to put back into the community, but it has also impacted its operating budget.

VFW Post 1298 will be closing its doors on the first of the year and moving its offices to the American Legion post on Dishman Lane.

“They’re looking for another place to go, but because of expanded gaming, their machines weren’t making any money,” said James Manley, chief finance officer for the American Legion.

The VFW has sold its building and will use that money to find a new location.

Community members are not required to be veterans to game at the American Legion.

Gaming machines at Post 23 are open from noon to midnight, seven days a week. Bingo is every Thursday and Sunday evening at 6 p.m.