New raffle devices expected this fall for Ohio veterans' posts

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COLUMBUS (AP) -- Lottery officials say 700 next-generation electronic raffle machines will be installed at Ohio veterans' posts and fraternal organizations in September and probably be in opeartion by the following month.

About 200 facilities will get the charitable games that the Ohio Lottery Commission was cleared to buy after the attorney general declared existing raffle machines unconstitutional last year, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/UfNCg9) reported.

A state legislative panel decided earlier this year that the lottery commission could spend $22.5 million for 1,200 new machines, with 60 percent of proceeds going to the state for primarily educational purposes and 40 percent going to the groups. The projected split is about $10 million annually for the state and $7 million for the facilities to use on operations and charitable contributions.

But many posts and lodges are keeping their existing raffle machines while a legal challenge is pending. A coalition of veterans' and fraternal groups sued and got a court order blocking the state from shutting down the existing machines.

Those have generated almost $9.4 million for veterans and charities, said Bill Seagraves, executive director of the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition.

"We don't have any objections to their machines," Seagraves told the newspaper. "We just want to be able to keep ours."

While the issue is unresolved, some facilities might choose to have both the new and old devices.

The new models have a payout rate per machine of 85 to 90 percent, according to the lottery.

"This kind of prize payout sends more back to the player, and overall it generates more play on the (new machines)," Ohio Lottery Director Dennis Berg said in a statement. "In turn, this will help veteran and fraternal organizations generate more money for their charities and their own internal operations, all within the confines of the law."

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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