Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/18/1994 01:39 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced SB 346 (REPORT CHARITABLE GAMING WINNERS) as the next order of business before the committee. SASHA HUGHES said that she represented herself as a senior citizen. She felt that she was entitled to play bingo. She informed the committee that she had kept track of the bingo winnings the first eleven days of April 1994. She said that Anchorage welfare recipients in bingo halls won $482,000, a round trip ticket for two to Las Vegas with $1200 cash, a 23 inch television and a VCR. None of those winnings were reported. She said that DHSS does not want to do anything. Ms. Hughes informed the committee of a situation in which a family was living in a bingo hall. The husband won $20,000 and did not report the winnings nor find a place to live. She explained that she went to DHSS who admitted that this man was a welfare recipient. DHSS did not know what they could do about the situation. She said that such situations of welfare fraud occur constantly. She felt that having the winner sign their correct name and social security number which would be given to DHSS would help inhibit welfare fraud. JAN HANSEN, Director of the Division of Public Assistance for DHSS, said that bingo and pull tab income has been a problem for the division for many years. She welcomed any solution which would result in accurate reports of this income. Under the division's programs, bingo and pull tab income is countable. She indicated the need to ensure that they receive the correct name and social security number or date of birth from the winning individual. The bill does not require that the operator verify that the individual gives the correct social security number or date of birth. Without verification, incorrect reporting could occur. She explained that requiring an operator to check the winning individual's identification would ensure they receive the correct information. Ms. Hansen felt that the method of obtaining the information in the bill was cumbersome, but workable. That method would create a large administrative work load. She expressed concern that if the correct information is not reported with the winnings then the information would not be meaningful. Another concern was expressed regarding the manner in which this would be enforced; how would they enforce operators to report the correct information. She said that a good number of welfare recipients do play and in some areas reporting is not such an issue. In Anchorage, there is not good reporting of winnings. She noted that the fiscal notes do not specify the amount of savings, although, they believe there would be savings. There is no way to determine the amount of savings. She did feel that the savings should exceed the costs. Number 397 SENATOR SALO asked if individuals are being removed from public assistance if they win and then are sent back through all the paperwork to put them back on public assistance. JAN HANSEN said that a winner on public assistance would have a $1 for $1 reduction of their benefits. Ms. Hansen noted that most reported earnings are small amounts. SASHA HUGHES thought that the bill required that the winner show a photo identification. Ms. Hughes also indicated that gaming has a computer compatible reporting form. SENATOR LEMAN felt that requiring a winner to show a photo identification would be a good provision although, it does not seem to be included in SB 346. SENATOR SALO inquired as to how Ms. Hughes acquired her data on the amount of winnings for welfare recipients at bingo. SASHA HUGHES explained that bingo winners must sign a sheet before they are paid. Ms. Hughes stated, "We all know who's on welfare and who's winning." The top winners seem to be Daffy Duck and Walter Hickel. Ms. Hughes said that she would be glad to take Senator Salo to a bingo hall when she is in Anchorage. Ms. Hughes recommended that SB 346 only be applied to communities with a population in excess of 10,000. SENATOR LEMAN moved a conceptual amendment requiring that the winner show photo identification. The drafter could put that in correctly. Hearing no objections, it was adopted. CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked if there was any further testimony on SB 346. Hearing none, he said that the CS would be drafted with Senator Leman's amendment which would be before the committee again.