Aiming to strike accord between state, bowling alleys

//August 3, 2009

Aiming to strike accord between state, bowling alleys

//August 3, 2009

Constitutional amendment would permit league raffles, say South Jersey sponsors.Two legislators want to amend the state constitution to add bowling leagues to the list of groups that can hold raffles to raise money.

Earlier this year, 59 of the state’s bowling alleys were fined $3,000 because their leagues held 50/50 raffles, but on April 9, the state Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission, without explanation, announced the penalties would be suspended, and issued warning letters instead.

Now, Assemblymen Matthew W. Milam and Nelson T. Albano, both Democrats from Cape May Court House, have proposed two measures: one preventing the commission from assessing civil penalties against bowling alley owners when raffles are held at their facilities without their knowledge, and another amending the state constitution to add bowling leagues to groups that can legally hold raffles.

The constitution now permits raffles only by bona fide veterans, charitable, educational, religious or fraternal organizations; civic and service clubs; seniors associations or clubs; and volunteer fire companies and first aid or rescue squads, according to a statement from the legislators.

“Bowling leagues hold raffles among themselves to maintain their league or support worthwhile local charities,” Milam said.

Albano agreed, adding, “In many ways, bowling leagues are no different than the Rotary Club or local VFW in their ability to bring people together and work to help their community.”

Chuck Loyle, a partner at Loyle Lanes, in Vineland, said bowling leagues run 50/50 raffles “to buy trophies or prizes, or to hold a banquet at the end of the year.” Leagues generally raise $35 to $50 a week through the 50/50 raffles, he said, but most have stopped, awaiting greater legal clarity.

Loyle said at time when bowling leagues are declining in membership, and bowling alleys face a decline in business as consumers cut back, “we want to try to help the leagues and keep them happy.”

Bowling leagues generally run from September through May, Loyle said, so he’s not expecting legislation to be enacted in time for the new season. The Legislature isn’t in session, and while a date hasn’t been set to reconvene, lawmakers typically return in November after the election.

E-mail Beth Fitzgerald at [email protected]