You would never guess that Delegate Dave Albo (Fairfax County) has been a member of the Virginia House of Delegates for over sixteen  years and chairman of the powerful Courts of Justice Committee. He is young, unassuming and surprisingly one of the funniest politicians I  have ever met. But don’t let that fool you. His hard work and sharp wit this year were essential to the biggest changes in charitable bingo  history.    Delegate Albo got his start in politics as an intern to a member of the General Assembly while he was in law school gaining tremendous  insight in how the process of governing works. Immediately afterwards he became a Fairfax County prosecutor. On the retirement of his  former mentor and Delegate, he was asked to run for his now open seat which he won in 1993. Currently he is a partner in the law firm of  Albo & Oblon, LLP. A long time member of the subcommittee which oversees bingo and ABC matters helped make him a perfect appointment for the combined  house and Senate subcommittee charged with comprehensively reviewing all bingo laws this past year. The members even spent an afternoon playing bingo in  Richmond to become familiar with the different bingo games and programs. Delegate Albo commented on how much fun and informative the afternoon was in  learning about bingo.   “It is good to know there is a legislator like Delegate Albo out there looking for every opportunity to protect and enhance the level of play for our customers and  the interests of our charities, especially during these challenging economic times,” said VCBA Director Chuck Lessin. Delegate Albo is married to his wife of ten  years Rita and they have a four year old son Ben.   P.O. Box 8643 Richmond VA 23226  (804) 291-1155 © Virginia Charitable Bingo Association
Delegate Dave Albo Big Change Means Big Money For Bingo Players & Charities On July 1, 2010, House Bill 950 will become Virginia law. The bill’s passage on March 22, 2010 was a victory for all statewide charities conducting bingo in the  Commonwealth. The Virginia Charitable Bingo Association stated that the new changes will increase the excitement of the bingo game for players while  providing more fundraising opportunities for the charities.   The new bill allows for non-members to volunteer for an organization, eliminates the two Winner Take All games, and creates the possibility for 5 additional  progressive games. The intent of the bill is to provide progressive games like the Lucky 7 that can grow the jackpot up to $5000 as compared to $1000 on the  Winner Take All. These games provide the possibility for thousands of additional prize dollars for the players.   There have been many questions regarding the progressive games and how they will be played. In order to understand the games and the bill that created  them a thorough review of the bill is necessary.    HB 950 Language                           Any Progressive Bingo Game, in which (a) a regular or special prize, not to exceed $100, is awarded on the basis of predetermined numbers or patterns  selected at random and (b) a progressive prize, not to exceed $500 for the initial progressive prize, is awarded if the predetermined numbers or patterns are  covered when a certain number of numbers is called provided:  1. There are no more than 6 such games per session per organization 2. The amount of increase of the progressive prize per session is no more than $100 3. The bingo cards or sheets used in such games are sold separately from the bingo     cards or sheets used for any other bingo games 4. The organization accounts separately for the proceeds from such sales 5. Such games will be operated in accordance with the Department’s rules of play           Below are examples of potential progressive games. Five Historical Tid Bits about B-I-N-G-O 1) Bingo as we know it originated as a state-run lottery game in Italy in 1530. It was called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia.” 2) The game made its first appearance in the United States at a country carnival in Atlanta, GA in 1929. It was called “Beano” because players used dried beans to mark their cards as numbers came up. 3) New York toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe renamed the game after someone mistakenly yelled “Bingo” instead of “Beano”. He hired a Columbia University math professor to help him increase the number of combinations in bingo cards and marketed the game heavily across the East Coast. 4) In 1934, Bingo’s fundraising capabilities were realized by a Catholic priest from Pennsylvania who sought to raise money for his church. 5) New Jersey became the first state to legalize Bingo in the early 1950s. Legislative Success for VCBA During the 2010 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, issues of finance and budget cutbacks were the main topics of attention. However, due to declining charitable giving and falling bingo attendance, legislators set aside time to focus on improving gaming for both the players and the charities. A year earlier Delegate Chris Jones (Suffolk) along with the Virginia Charitable Bingo Association identified bingo and charitable giving as in need of attention; therefore, he created a joint subcommittee of key House of Delegates and Senators to study the industry. At the onset, Delegate Jones gave special instructions that any future legislation not change issues of competition within each region or between small and large games. VCBA lobbyist Matt Benka said, “Delegate Jones’ leadership and attention to detail were critical. Without it we would not have been able to balance the many sensitive needs of all our members while at the same time improving the gaming experience for players and the bottom line for our charities.” The joint subcommittee recognized that garnering ideas from all over the Commonwealth was essential so four meetings were held in Richmond and another four all across the state. Your VCBA leadership attended and made comments at all of these meetings. The final report reflected a near consensus among charities on the following topics: that there should be an increase in the number of allowed progressive games and nonmembers should be allowed to volunteer for games. The report was then forwarded to the legislature where the VCBA lobbied heavily for the Bill. Only slight modifications were made to the Bill with the VCBA supporting these modifications. The Bill won approval in both houses and was signed by the Governor on April 11th. It will become law on July 1, 2010. Chuck Lessin, VCBA legislative director, said of this Session’s activities, “These are the biggest changes to charitable gaming since it was first started. I believe every charity and player in the Commonwealth will see benefits now and in the long run.” He continued, “Our efforts this year were very successful. However, with increased VCBA membership, I am confident we will be able to do much more during the 2011 General Assembly Session.” Through extensive lobbying efforts at the Virginia General Assembly, your VCBA representatives have managed to gain tremendous support in passing legislation to outlaw sweepstakes and internet cafes in the state. Your lobbyist and legislative director have met with several delegates, senators and representatives from the Governor's and Attorney General's offices. Our group has built a consensus at all levels of state government to ban these illegal games. In the end, the bill was referred to the courts of justice committee where it was passed out of committee and sent to the full committee. Check back on our website for full and final details. VCBA Legislative Director Chuck Lessin awarding the VCBA 2010 legislator of the Year award to Delegate Chris Jones in the General Assembly building. Delegate Chris Jones was the chairman of the Joint Subcommittee of the House of Delegates and Senate conducted a complete review of the Virginia Charitable Gaming industry last year. Additionally he is the Chairman of the House General Laws Committee which approves all charitable gaming legislation. A member of the House since 1998 he represents the 76th district which includes portions of the Cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk. The Speaker appointed him to serve on the powerful Appropriations committee, the General Laws Committee and the Privileges and Elections Committee. VCBA Legislative Director Chuck Lessin said, “Delegate Jones’ leadership during the Joint Subcommittee process was invaluable to our industry, his focus on helping charities play new games and increase the level of t=ethics to the industry is unmatched.” VCBA 2010 Legislator of the Year Award