Bingo license granted in Ferriday

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 28, 2011

FERRIDAY — For the past few months, Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin has not been afraid to let the town and the aldermen know that he does not support video bingo in Ferriday.

When the aldermen and McGlothin gathered in a special meeting Thursday night to select the bingo commercial lessor licensee, the mayor’s attitude had not changed.

“It has been passed for a while, and there is nothing anyone can do about that,” he said. “The way I look at it, we just need to make the best of the situation.”

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The aldermen attempted to do just that when they selected Big Bucks Video Bingo, LLC of Denham Springs, La., in a 4-1 vote Thursday evening.

Big Bucks was one of three distributors who made an offer to Ferriday to operate in the town.

Representatives from LA Video Bingo were in attendance at the meeting and a letter was sent from the owners of White, LLC.

Big Buck owner Rusty Durham said with more than 28 years of experience in video bingo, his company is the right one for the job.

“We have locations in Leesville, Richwood and Marrero,” he said. “We are opening a second location in Richwood at the request of the town because we have been so successful there.”

Durham said state law requires all employees at the new bingo hall be local, and that 15 new jobs would be added to the area when everything begins operation.

Durham said next step in the process is to get the charities that will benefit from the bingo hall qualified by the state.

“We could have the building ready and the machines turned on and still not be able to operate if we don’t get these charities qualified,” he said.

McGlothin said in order for a charity to qualify, it must be a 501-c3 charity.

“Not every Tom, Dick and Harry is going to be able to get it,” he said. “They are not easy to get. These things can take a long time.”

McGlothin said looking for charities in the town that are already 501-c3 approved would help speed the process up.

McGlothin also said the aldermen need to think long and hard about the charities that will benefit from bingo before they make their selections.

“We need to make sure the people that are getting the money are the people that need it the most,” he said.

Town attorney Anna Ferguson said groups that currently qualify under 501-c3 conditions in Ferriday include the Museum Foundation, the Christmas Charity Fund and certain area churches.

Durham said his company will work with the town to help select the charities, but the town will make the final decision.

While Big Bucks will operate and own the machines, state law requires that a separate company must operate and own the facility that holds them.

Durham said Vernon Parish Properties will be the company that owns the future bingo hall in Ferriday.

“They are open solely as an LLC to operate separately from the distributors,” he said. “They are used to doing it, and enjoy a very amicable relationship with the state charitable bingo association.”

McGlothin did have one question to Big Bucks and Durham before the vote was cast regarding the companies recent attempt to apply for a 40-day temporary machine permit in Concordia Parish.

“I am just trying to figure out what happened. We were in a turmoil over here trying to figure out what was going on,” he said. “We have never done it that way. We vote on it and send it back. It has always been done the same way.”

The company applied for a temporary permit Jan. 5 without getting approval by the aldermen to operate in the town.

Durham said the incident was just a misunderstanding.

“There was information given to us that you could not sit here and apply for the distributor’s license in the town if you did not have a business license first,” he said. “I spent three hours at the office, we discussed everything at length, and I wrote him a check. That was our legal advice.”

Durham said the check was returned to him by the sales tax department and that the incident is over.