Gambling co-op appeals ruling that shuts down gaming for 1 year

Posted: Friday, September 22, 2000

A Juneau-based gambling cooperative that funds six nonprofit groups is appealing a year-long ban placed on it by the state for breaking gambling laws.

The state Tax Division banned Last Chance Co-op and its six nonprofit members Tlingit and Haida Central Council, Juneau Boxing Club, Alaska Village Initiative, Kenaitze Indian Tribe, Anchorage Symphony and Charitable Gaming Association of Alaska from running gambling operations in 2001.

In letters dated Sept. 14, Last Chance Co-op and Multiple Charities Association Co-op officially declared their intention to appeal "all points raised by" the Tax Division's decision. Dave Massey, spokesman for Last Chance Cooperative, would not comment on the appeals.

Tlingit and Haida Central Council also filed an appeal on its own behalf. The Central Council had withdrawn from the gambling cooperative in May 1999 "because it was having difficulty obtaining accurate information from Mr. Wright," the request for appeal states. George Wright managed Last Chance Co-op for the nonprofits. The Central Council argued it should not be penalized for any misdeeds of the cooperative.

"It seems unfair and an unintended consequence of the law that because Wright was acting as a member in charge under a multiple beneficiary permit, the Central Council was not only unprotected financially from any possible malfeasance on the part of Mr. Wright, but that Mr. Wright's malfeasance (if any) should result in loss of the Central Council's right to hold a charitable gaming permit," the Central Council request for appeal said.

Another of the nonprofit members, Alaska Village Initiative, also asked to be excused from the decision because it was based on events that came before the group joined Last Chance Co-op in December 1999.

Chief of Appeals Carl Meyer said he expects other nonprofits named in the decision may file independent appeals as well. The appeals now go to a hearing officer in the Department of Revenue, who will schedule a hearing before the end of the year.

The decision alleged the gambling cooperative repeatedly failed to pay the legally required amount to its member nonprofits and had more expenses than allowed.

The Last Chance Co-op provided its member nonprofit groups with $70,000 each in 1999. The members will have to find other sources of funds in 2001 if the decision to shut down operations next year stands.

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