Recognizing that the ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak is placing a severe financial strain on first responders, veterans’ groups and other nonprofit organizations, state Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, is introducing legislation that would temporarily allow these organizations to conduct online small games of chance (SGOC) fundraising activities during the duration of Gov. Tom Wolf’s disaster declaration.
The bill would allow organizations with a small games of chance club licenses to offer games of chance virtually via the internet or mobile application, as well as receive payment electronically through credit and debit cards or other electronic mobile payment applications.
“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 in a news release. “Ensuring that these organizations have the financial resources to continue to provide critical services to our communities is vital.”
Licensees would be required to verify age and residency of those participating in the games of chance, and the ability to fundraise online would end 30 days after the termination of the COVID-19 emergency declaration. Pittman was the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 1122 (Act 26 of 2020), which provided $50 million in grants for Pennsylvania’s first responders, $44 million for fire companies and $6 million for EMS stations.
“These men and women have seen their workloads increase while their funds have been depleted,” he said. “Their traditional fundraising programs have been suspended by the coronavirus outbreak, and they’ve had increased expenses for items such as personal protective gear. Our fire companies and ambulance crews have been on the front line of the battle, and it is only fair that they receive the support they deserve in recognition of their efforts.”