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Ripon may OK bingo games at city facilities
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In an effort to allow service organizations to conduct fund-raising events such as bingo, Ripon City Attorney Tom Terpstra recently revisited several old ordinances.

One was part of the municipal code enacted during a time when local level gambling regulations were non-existence at the state level.

“Now gambling is highly regulated at the state level,” he said at the Ripon Council meeting. “Most communities do not have a local ordinance.”

Terpstra recommended that the municipal code pertaining to bingo needed to be amended.

“This ordinance is a comprehensive revision of the past bingo ordinance,” Terpstra said. “It includes an item that may come (here) in the future called ‘remote caller’ bingo, which is heavily regulated by state law.”

Meanwhile, the ordinances in place prohibited staging bingo games in city-owned facilities. The matter was brought to the attention of elected leaders earlier this year when Friends of the Senior Center and Ripon Rotary Club looked into doing such a fundraiser at the Senior Center.

There was a sticking point. According to a 1998 ordinance, “no bingo games shall be conducted within any public building or on any public property with the city,” it read.

Council unanimously agreed with Terpstra recommendations, voting 5-0 on the introduction of the two proposed ordinances, in turn, waiving the first readings on the two.

The first is an updated bingo municipal code that incorporates state law to allow the city to enforce (the state law) at the local level, he said.

According to the new ordinance, any organization looking to put together a bingo game – included in the part for charitable purposes – would be required to apply for a permit, which, if approved, would be valid for one year.

The ‘remote caller bingo’ games can be conducted by organizations that are exempt from payment of the bank and corporation tax.

“In addition, no organization shall be authorized to conduct ‘remote caller bingo’ games unless the organization has been incorporated or in existence for three or more years and a city-issued permit to conduct bingo games,” the ordinance said.

Zuber asked: “Since gambling is regulated at the state level is the city exposed – by renting the facilities – by (any) group that violates the law?”

To safeguard against this, Terpstra is recommending that staff add language in the rental application requiring that renters have the correct representation of license, permit, and a note indicating that the city is not obligated to enforce the state law.