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Wendy Reuer, Published December 23 2013

Fargo OKs charities having five gambling sites, up from three

FARGO ¬ The city is allowing charities to up their antes on gaming operations here, approving a measure Monday to let nonprofits increase the number of gambling sites they run from three to five.

The City Commission raised the limit to five sites at its Monday meeting after Team Makers, a booster club for North Dakota State University athletics, asked the city to reconsider what they called one of the lowest limits in the state.

Pat Simmers, executive director of Team Makers, said Monday that his organization has had to turn down requests from site owners wanting to host gambling at their facility because the group already operates three sites.

“And we know other nonprofits in the Fargo area that are in the same position as we are,” Simmers said.

Simmers said Grand Forks has a five-site limit and West Fargo has no cap.

Mayor Dennis Walaker said Monday night that Minot has a limit of 25.

Simmers said Fargo’s growing population and bar scene calls for a larger demand for charitable gaming.

Nonprofits are allowed to raise funds through charitable gaming. The nonprofits oversee and staff blackjack and pull tab games at licensed sites, mostly bars.

“Every table, every bar jar, everything that is out there, we have to staff,” Simmers said.

Increasing the number of sites allows larger nonprofits such as Team Makers, Sharehouse or the Plains Art Museum better opportunities for fundraising, Simmers said.

“Working for a nonprofit, I know how hard it is to do fundraising,” said Melissa Sobolik, commissioner and director of agency and client services at the Great Plains Food Bank. “I think it does need to be an option for other nonprofits out there.”

Terri Leier-Sprenger, the gaming auditor for the city, said 18 organizations operate at 36 different sites.

“It changes by the day,” Terry said.

For now, Team Makers runs the gambling at the Holiday Inn, Lucky 13 and the Fargodome in Fargo, as well as Hooligans in West Fargo.

The first limit of two was set in 1981. Then, in 2005, the limit was changed from two to three with a stipulation – meant to curb “pirating of sites” – that says if an organization chooses to launch a third location, that site either must not have any gaming or must not have had any gaming for the past 30 days.

The commission on Monday also removed the 30-day stipulation.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530