Amendment C supporters hoping to win BINGO next month

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Amendment C, a measure on next month’s ballot, would allow charities and nonprofit organizations to hire people to operate the bingos and raffles they use as part of their fundraising efforts.

But while some of those organizations say that is a good thing, other nonprofit groups argue the opposite.

Robert Kidd, state commander of the Colorado Veterans of Foreign Wars, said all the measure would do is professionalize bingos and raffles, and end up diverting money away from charities and put it into the hands of for-profit companies.

He said the amendment would commercialize charitable bingo games and let for-profit operators take over.

“The amendment will grind down one of the larger revenue streams nonprofit organizations have for use in your community,” Kidd said.

Supporters of the measure, however, say that bingo is in a death spiral, going from nearly 50 bingo halls around the state in the 1980s to 11 today, going from generating about $129 million a year in funds to just $23 million.

They say that’s partly because laws surrounding bingo haven’t been updated in years, and doesn’t allow nonprofits to alter games to attract new players and energize current ones.

Also part of the problem is that current law requires nonprofit groups to conduct them, and members of those nonprofit groups to operate them. As a result, they are too reliant on fewer and fewer volunteers to help.

By law, only nonprofits that have received bingo or raffle licenses can operate them, and only those that have been in existence for at least five years can get such licenses. The constitutional amendment would lower that requirement to three years, and give the Colorado Legislature the authority to lower it even more after 2024.

Kidd said that’s likely to happen, and will further turn the fundraising activity into a business venture, resulting in a cheapening of charitable organizations.

“Communities within Colorado benefit from the operation of nonprofits each day,” he said. “In many locations around Colorado, nonprofits are the sole community asset that is the anchor of the population that enhance the economic, social groups, the unique spirit and cultural well-being of their respective communities.”

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