Meeks: Let commission be responsible for permits

Published 11:59 pm Friday, June 5, 2009

Sheriff Dennis Meeks said Friday he wants nothing to do with licensing charitable bingo operations in Covington County.

Instead he believes the county commission should assume that responsibility if it adopts rules governing charitable bingo in the county.

He said that’s why he has yet to act on the bingo application submitted to him last month by the Opp-based Danley Foundation.

The Danley Charitable Foundation is a non-profit organization created in 1988 whose main project is financing and maintaining the Danley Charitable Park on U.S. Hwy. 331 south of Opp. If licensed, the group hopes to sponsor scholarships with the bingo proceeds.

“I’ve not acted on (the application),” he said. “It’s still sitting right here in my desk drawer. Why? The biggest reason is I hope the commission takes (approving bingo permits) out of my hands.”

Meeks said he felt “it should have been put in the commission’s hands” when a bill was passed in 1993 by the state legislature. That act, which sets rules for charitable bingo in Covington County, also gives the sheriff authority to issue $100 permits for charitable bingo and sets guidelines for issuing those permits.

Constitutional Amendment 565, approved by voters in 1994, allows charitable bingo in Covington County and charges the county commission with setting rules for it.

In Meeks’ opinion, the commission should become the group on record for licensing those charitable bingo operations — not the sheriff.

“The issuing of bingo permits needs to be like issuing any other permit like liquor or beer,” he said. “Those permit fees go to the (county’s) general fund. They don’t go to the sheriff’s office.

“In my opinion, it should be the responsibility of the commission,” he said.

In the current bingo license application, gaming is limited to two days a week and for no more than five hours a day. It requires any non-profit organization seeking a license to either provide copies of its tax-exempt status or a copy of its charter.

Meeks said as of Friday afternoon, the Danley Charitable Foundation application is the only one he’s received for a new bingo license. At present American Legion Post 80 is the only charity in the county with a current bingo permit.

“There’s a lot of controversy about (bingo),” Meeks said. “I think a lot more questions need to be answered about the whole situation of bingo in Covington County.”