Prince George's County Council Chairman William B. Amonett presented legislation yesterday to tighten laws governing bingo games that raise money, a move designed to hamper further a group of businessmen seeking to operate a super bingo hall.
The bill, which will be formally introduced and referred to committee when the council returns in January from its holiday recess, is aimed at removing any remaining ambiguity in the current law, Amonett said. It would apply to both commercial and charity operations.
"Bingo has been traditionally reserved for nonprofit organizations," Amonett said. "Most people have understood we were not interested in moving right into the commercial side of bingo right now."
The drafting of the council bill is the second consecutive blow dealt the businessmen who want to sublease space to charities in a vacant J.C. Penney store in the Eastover Shopping Center for a 1,500-seat bingo hall. Last week, the county Department of Environmental Resources refused to license the operation, citing a county attorney's opinion that the plan to split the profits between charities and the building's owners would violate existing county law.
Amonett said that he expects his bill to win council approval easily.
"I think that's apple pie and motherhood," he said of the more stringent regulations.
Under the proposed law, no organization will be allowed to rent any building in the county for "benefit performances" or sponsor such benefit games more than two days a week at any one location, except during events such as the county fair.
Joel Rozner, the attorney for Concerned Citizens Against Super Bingo, said the 50 nonprofit organizations he represents will meet to discuss the proposed legislation, which they supported, next week.
The council also voted yesterday to extend by 60 days the Dec. 31 deadline by which private development projects that have received county approval to qualify for tax-exempt revenue bonds must close their deals with the lenders.
The council rejected a county administration request that the deadline be extended until the end of 1985 in order to give developers making use of the bonds an extra 12 months to settle the financial arrangements.
According to Morris Tranen of the county's Economic Development Corporation, bond authorizations totaling almost $80 million have been approved for 24 projects by the council during the past six months. These funds, which come from the federal government but are allocated to businesses by the county, are used to finance construction of commercial rather than residential development.