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Bronson allows gambling for charity

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By Mark Scohier

Despite an ordinance and opposition from town officials in the past, Bronson could be seeing a gambling establishment within town limits.
Council members voted 3-2 in favor of allowing area resident Bill Brown, who runs a food pantry known as the Children’s Table, to start hosting Bingo games at the establishment in order to help cover the costs associated with providing food to the community.
“Our average feeding per month is 4,500,” Brown told the council, adding that the organization in the last year has received only two donations, $700 from another organization and then about $3,800 from a recent charity fishing tournament. “We have a critical problem, and it’s getting worse … the number of people here needing food, it’s growing.”
Brown said he spent a long time avoiding the idea of Bingo to help offset costs, but the current need is forcing him to pursue it as an option.
Council Member Berlon Weeks, who voted against the idea, said the town spent a lot of time fighting to keep gambling establishments at bay.
“We passed a bill that says no gambling,” Weeks said, explaining that allowing a Bingo establishment might open the door for lawsuits from people interested in opening Internet cafes, businesses the council specifically opposed coming into town last year.
“I’ve been advised by Town Hall that it can be done,” Brown responded.
Mayor Beatrice Roberts asked Town Attorney Steven Warm if it was true that a Bingo hall could be set up.
“I think it can be done. It can be authorized,” Warm said. Allowing a Bingo hall for a non-profit such as the Children’s Table would not necessarily mean Internet cafes would be successful at trying to open in Bronson, he said, though, also adding, “It could give them a leg up.”
Vice Mayor Franklin Schuler asked Brown how such a game would be run. Brown said he hadn’t gotten that far yet, explaining he wanted approval before checking into the logistics. “But it’s critical to what we’re doing …” Brown said.
Council Member Jason Kennedy, also voting against the motion, said he was afraid it might open the door to other types of gambling.
“I don’t know,” he said, “I’m a little split on it. It could be a slippery slope.”
“We went to great lengths to keep Internet cafes out,” Weeks reiterated. “A Bingo hall is no different than an Internet Café.”
“Yes it is,” Brown said. “Yes it is.” Brown said there wasn’t anyone on the council who wasn’t related to or acquainted with someone who needed food from the Children’s Table. People are struggling, he said. “We have to do something.