Electronic raffles run by veterans and fraternal groups raised $12M in 3 years, coalition says


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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Electronic raffle machines operated by fraternal and veterans organizations brought in millions of dollars for Ohio charities during the past three years, according to a coalition of groups that is fighting an effort to shut them down.

The legality of those machines is the focus of a pending lawsuit by the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition, which said Monday that the machines generated $12 million over three years to benefit veterans groups and other charities, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1yqIbaM ) reported.

The legal fight started in 2013, when state Attorney General Mike DeWine declared that the machines at hundreds of Ohio posts and lodges are illegal slots games and temporarily shut down the devices. The coalition sued, and the raffle machines have continued operating as judges issued a temporary restraining order and refused the state's request to dismiss the lawsuit.

DeWine contends the machines amount to illegal games of chance. The coalition argues that the raffle machines should be classified as bingo games operated for charity and permitted under state law.

Meanwhile, a new set of games has entered the picture with approval from the state. The Ohio Lottery Commission installed about 700 next-generation electronic lottery machines at about 200 veterans posts and fraternal lodges last fall, with up to five machines provided to each facility for free.

The proceeds, which are split between the state and the groups, haven't been reported yet, the newspaper said.

Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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