Warned by a Virginia legislator that it was inviting Maryland-style corruption into the state, a House of Delegates committee stripped from a bingo-regulation bill today a provision that would let local governments set the time, place and frequency of bingo games.
Del. Ira M. Lechner (D-Arlington), long an opponent of bingo control measures, told the House General Laws Committee that the Senate-passed provision, designed to correct bingo game abuses in Northern Virginia, was a mistake.
It could lead to local government scandals in Virginia like those in Maryland, where legislators apportion "racing days" among the state's approved horse racing tracks, Lechner said. "You'd be a fool to sit on any board of supervisors having to face this (bingo regulation) every year," he argued.
Althought some committee members complained that amendments offered by Lechner would hamper effort to regulate the lucrative five-night-a-week game in Northern Virginia, the committee finally agreed to one of his amendments that would allow bingo operators to have games up to three times a week. Local governing boards could grant additional playing times for county fair and other specific events under the bill.
An announced candidate for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, Lechner described his amendment as "something everybody can live with and be very happy with." The bingo legislation, sponsored by Sen. Charles G. Colgan (D-Prince William), was sent to the House floor for action next week.
Separately, the Senate gave final legislative approval to legislation legalizing a game called "instant bingo," which had been declared an illegal form of gambling by the State Attorney General'sOffice.