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Gaming commission cracks down on senior citizens

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — Jeannie Ashley, 75, spends a lot of time at the Muncie Delaware County Senior Center playing bingo and the card game euchre. For her it’s not about winning, but rather socializing to overcome her illness.

“I’ve had polio when I was a child, and it can’t be corrected, and I said, ‘I’m going to start going over there. At least I’ll be laughing. At least I’ll be talking to people,’” she said.

Ashley and many other senior citizens are members of a euchre club that regularly plays at the senior center.

But recently, the group was told they can no longer pay to play because it’s against state law.

“Whoever got the highest score, they won $1. Whoever got the most loans, they got a dollar,” Ashley said.

She also said they have prizes like soap, hand sanitizer and other needed items that can’t be purchased with food stamps. Some of the seniors are on a limited income.

“They were charging people $3. $1 from every person went to us for room rental for overhead costs,” Judy Elton, who became executive director of the senior center on July 1 explained. “$1 went to snacks because they have a whole table full of snacks that they share, because they play for three to four hours at a time. And then the rest of the money went to either purchase prizes or they get together and have parties or go out to eat.”

The Indiana Gaming Commission issued a statement that said:

“We responded to a complaint from a member of two euchre card clubs regarding mishandling of funds at one of the clubs utilizing a senior center for gaming.  Consistent with our goal of educating organizations about charity gaming compliance, the organizations were sent a form email with information about the kinds of licenses available.  We distribute regularly such email information following the receipt of a complaint. As is consistent with our practice in such matters, once the Indiana Gaming Commission sent the email, there was no intention to address this further and no additional communication, as expending resources on such minor issues is not consistent with Commission priorities.”

The Commission also stated, “Card games like these are very similar to developing a Final Four bracket or $5 poker night with friends. The Indiana Gaming Commission uses a common sense litmus test and did not, and never had, any plans to take enforcement action against this euchre club.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office also issued a statement that said:

“When Governor Pence became aware of the situation in Muncie this morning, he directed the Indiana Gaming Commission to make sure it does not have any plans to shut down euchre card games at the Delaware County Senior Citizens Center or to take enforcement action against them. He has asked the Commission to review its procedures to ensure common sense prevails when reviewing complaints and concerns.”