Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/18/1994 01:39 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                  

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