When area social clubs were clamoring for changes to the state's small games of chance rules, we supported them.

By law, they were required to donate 100 percent of their gambling revenue to charity -- the price for being allowed to offer daily drawings, punch cards and raffles to its members.

But many of these nonprofit and private organizations said they were struggling financially. If they were to survive and continue making charitable contributions, it made sense that they be able to keep a small portion of their gambling revenue.

We expected a law approved last year would be a win for both the clubs and the causes they support.

It allowed clubs to keep 30 percent of gambling money and increase their prize-payout limits -- from $500 to $1,000 for daily drawings, $5,000 to $25,000 for weekly drawings and $5,000 to $10,000 for raffles per month.

The higher payouts would allow them to take in more money from the games, helping to offset the amount they were keeping for themselves.

Everybody should have been happy.

Not only is that not the case, some clubs say the new law is driving them out of business. They want legislators to ease the rules even more.

How can that be, considering they're now able to keep 30 percent -- compared to zero -- of their gambling proceeds?

It turns out they weren't exactly following the rules before, a fact some club representatives freely admit.


"Every month ... we gave everything that we could quote-unquote 'afford,' because if we couldn't stay in business, we wouldn't have anything at all," George Smith, home association secretary and treasurer at American Legion Post 605 in Dallastown.

"When they say the clubs weren't giving 100 percent away, that's true," he said. "They had to survive. It was everyone, it wasn't just us."

Not anymore.

Along with loosening the restrictions on gambling, the law also tightened the accountability, requiring clubs with liquor licenses to submit reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Now that someone is actually paying attention and enforcing the rules, 30 percent of some clubs' gambling money apparently seems like small potatoes.

"If 30's not enough now, what percentage were they keeping for themselves before?" wondered state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township.

We'd like to know that, too, because something doesn't sound right here.

The first financial reports were supposed to be filed with the Department of Revenue by Feb. 1, but the Corbett administration pushed that date back a year under pressure from the clubs.

In the meantime, we hope the Legislature doesn't take any action until it gets a look at those first audits.

There's a good chance they'll be real eye-openers.

Rather than ease the rules, lawmakers might want to tighten them up again.