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Bingo group applies for permit too soon

FERRIDAY — Big Bucks Video Bingo LLC recently sent $1,250 for a 40-day temporary machine permit from Concordia Parish without receiving final approval by the Town of Ferriday and on Wednesday the application, and the money along with it, was sent back to the Denham Springs based company.

Big Bucks applied for the permit Jan. 5 from the Concordia Parish Department of Revenue and Taxation and received the approval.

This was shocking news to Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin, because no company had previously been selected to operate a video bingo hall in the town.

“It’s a farce. That is what you have to call it since it has not been approved,” he said. “You have to have a vote before you can get a license and operate.”

Concordia Parish Tax Collector Randy Temple said even though they received the permit, the group could still not operate in the town.

“The fact that they had a permit didn’t mean they had the building or facility for operation approved,” he said.

Temple said the sales tax department returned Big Bucks’ application and money because Ferriday’s bingo ordinance requires applicants to be approved and then registered through the town.

“The new ordinance requires businesses to apply through the city. We did not know this,” he said. “It is in conflict with the occupational license ordinance, so we voided their 40-day permit and sent their money back.”

Temple said video bingo in the state is run through a division of the Louisiana State Police, but local towns have to pass an ordinance to allow video bingo in an area.

“Even though bingo is legal in the state of Louisiana, that doesn’t mean you can set up bingo wherever you want,” he said. “You still have to comply with local laws.”

Temple said the operation of a video bingo hall requires two separate groups, a distributor who purchases and runs the machines and an operator who manages the facility.

“According to my understanding of the law, the operator and distributor cannot be the same,” he said. “Big Bucks was applying as a distributor.”

Another reason Temple said the sales tax department sent the application back to Big Bucks was that they had no designated location in Concordia Parish or Ferriday where the machines would reside.

Temple said the $1,250 fee Big Bucks paid to the sales tax department was for 25 video bingo machines at $50 a piece.

Temple said the new ordinance in Ferriday would require the applicant awarded the video bingo approval to only pay $20 a machine.

“That is quite a difference,” he said. “Whoever wins is going to be saving a lot of money.”

McGlothin said the board of aldermen decided at their meeting on Jan. 11 to wait two weeks before they would cast a vote on one of the three applicants who applied for the bingo hall in Ferriday.

“We are just looking for someone who is reputable,” he said. “If we are going to have gambling, we want to do it right.”

McGlothin said the board’s decision on who will run the video bingo parlor will be scheduled at the next aldermen meeting in February, but he may call a special session next week to cast the vote to avoid any more problems.

“I have no idea why (Big Bucks) tried to do it,” he said. “I do not know what led them to believe they were going to getting a license. There has to be a vote.”