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Bill would make it easier for online fundraisers

Mike Reese

A pair of state House of Representatives members want to make it easier for community organizations to raise money as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Rep. Mike Reese, R-Westmoreland/Somerset, and Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Fayette/Westmoreland, have introduced House Bill 2764 to permit Small Games of Chance licensees to conduct games online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Events to give away items such as golf equipment and other items have become important community fundraisers throughout Pennsylvania, Reese and Warner said in their legislative memorandum, but COVID-19 restrictions have made it more difficult for fire departments, veterans associations and other nonprofit organizations that rely on revenue from these events.

Many non-profit organizations continue operating but need to raise money money to meet increasing costs.

“COVID-19 restrictions have seriously hurt our fire departments’ and other nonprofit organizations’ ability to generate funds,” Reese said. “For many of these organizations, ticket sales and bashes are regular income sources and how they provide some very important community services. Many organizations have found unique ways to continue to raise funds using technology and social media. This bill, if passed, will solidify that they are operating within the law.”

Some Small Games of Chance licensees began using the Internet to conduct games of chance, but current enforcement regulations and procedures do not expressly allow for online sales of small games of chance. At the same time, current law prohibits Game of Chance license holder from accepting credit card and online payments from participants. House Bill 2764 would create statutory language to allow Small Games of Chance licensees to conduct online games as well as conduct online transactions during the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Ryan Warner

“Our communities rely on first response agencies to keep us safe, and on veterans and other social organizations to support things like scholarships, scouting and youth sports,” Warner said. “We need these services now more than ever, and the only way they can remain available is by ensuring nonprofit organizations have the ability to raise funds despite COVID-19 restrictions.”

There are several Republican co-sponsors, while Democratic members Rep. Tina M. Davis, R-Bucks, Rep. Michael Driscoll, D-Philadelphia, Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, have also signed on as co-sponsors.

Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Armstrong/Butler/Indiana/Westmoreland, has introduced Senate Bill 1122 as companion legislation to the House bill.

“Due to restrictions implemented by the Governor’s disaster declarations during the COIVD-19 emergency, these organizations have been unable to conduct many of the fundraisers they need to operate,” Pittman said. “Ensuring that these organizations have the financial resources to continue to provide critical services to our communities is vital.”

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