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March 16, 2016 - 3:01pm

NYS Gaming Commission suspends Corvette raffle for Stafford Volunteer Fire Department, refunds will be issued

posted by Billie Owens in Stafford Fire Department, corvette raffle, news.

We received this from the Stafford Volunteer Fire Department:

Under our licensing agreement with the New York State Gaming Association Commission, our activities are audited just to make sure that we follow their rules and regulations.

As we understand it, there were some changes in the rules and regulations that we inadvertently did not notice. As a result, they have suspended our raffle for this year.

Therefore, we are in the process of returning all funds received in connection with this year's raffle. We are very sorry for what has happened and wish to thank all of you for your continued support over the years.

We have contacted the Gaming Commission and Stafford fire officials for more details and will provide them as able.

Ed Hartgrove
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Yep. Ain't that the way it goes? Not only will the Stafford VOLUNTEER FD "lose" tens-of-thousands (possibly more than a hundred-thousand+) dollars of funds, they will also have to PAY to hunt down, and return, monies. That, alone, could potentially cost thousands of dollars for postage.

A nasty person might silently pray that the "whistleblowers" home would be the one the FD was unable to save. I actually have met a couple "nasty" people in my lifetime.

Jim Urtel Jr
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I raced horses and have paid for a license to the NYS Gaming Commission every year since 1982. Just like every other horsemen in the state has. We also have a strict set of rules to follow by them and when we break one, we get fined, lose our license for a said period of time and PAY BACK THE PURSE MONEY if it was won in a race illegally. Nothing against firemen and what they do, they are great. They didn`t follow the rules though and collected millions over the last 20 years doing it. People don`t always like rules or the law but they are there and have to be followed. Good luck going against the NYS Gaming Commission too. With all the money coming in from gambling these days, they are probably one of the most powerful branches in the gov`t. today.

kevin kretschmer
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So a volunteer organization that does nothing but benefit the community at large is punished for selling tickets out of state via the internet and for accepting electronic payments by e-check and credit card yet the NYS Lottery rakes in millions of dollars a year by those very same means. You're doin' a heckuva job, Andy!

Jim Urtel Jr
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Rules and laws are made for a reason. You can`t expect one group of people to have to follow them and another not to.

Ed Hartgrove
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Jim (Urtel): As you commented "They didn't follow the rules though and collected millions over the last 20 years doing it.", I guessing you surely must've missed the part of the post that said, "As we understand it, there were some changes in the rules and regulations that we inadvertently did not notice. As a result, they have suspended our raffle for this year."

To me, that part of the original post means that the Gaming Commission had changed some of the rules/regulations, someone in Stafford didn't notice said changes, and, therefore, Stafford's raffle wasn't allowed using the "new" regs.

Now, there's nothing in the post that tells us how long Stafford has been out of compliance with the current regs. Maybe just this year, could be for the last couple years, or even for the last 20 years. As a thebatavian "reader", we don't have THAT information.

What we do have is the statement, from the Stafford FD that says, "Under our licensing agreement with the New York State Gaming Association Commission, our activities are audited just to make sure that we follow their rules and regulations."

Which, to me, says, whoever does the auditing JUST noticed that the FD wasn't in compliance. Therefore, it would fall on the "auditor" as to how long such practices have/have not been followed. I highly doubt any credible auditor would allow illegal behavior to go on year after year. Not saying it isn't possible - just that it's highly improbable.

Jim Urtel Jr
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It`s even more unlikely that the Commission made the mistake. Like in the horse or casino business, the rules get changed all the time and its up to the licensee to know those changes and abide by them. Playing stupid with the Commission doesn`t work. Believe me, people try that every day! I just don`t think they had the time to worry about a small town`s 4-day carnival every year. The rule broken was selling tickets all over the world online and they started that i believe in 1996. I would logically figure that has always been against the rules considering no other carnivals have done it and stick to the local drawings like they were supposed to. Don`t you find it odd that the little town of Stafford with no school, grocery store or even a gas station has a NYC sized fire hall? If it was legal to do, St. Joe`s would be the Sistine Chapel by now!Like I said, I have dealt with the Gaming Commission for 30+ years and they don`t screw around. I have read on other sites how people want to make them change their rules. It isn`t going to happen!

Frank Bellucci
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so when officials in office [ ie' silva ] take our taxpayers money they get sentenced to prison and still collect they're pensions where are the needed changes in the laws now stafford does alot of good for mercy flight; charity and our local area give them a break

Ed Hartgrove
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Well, Jim. I certainly have no idea what other fire departments have, or haven't, done, as far as offering their raffle tickets online. I don't know, but, I'm guessing there are HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of small-town/village volunteer FD's. Who knows what they all do, or, don't do?

And, I wouldn't even begin to try to figure out when they started selling tickets online. Or, when they became "out of compliance".

Ed Hartgrove
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Jim Urtel Jr
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Well Ed, Stafford is the only one I know of that completely remodeled the fire hall and grounds like they did. It says right on the first page of your rules that they could only sell tickets from within their county. If you read the story about Elba it says that they only did sell the tickets locally same as the church in Batavia. If it was legal to sell them worldwide online, they all would have been doing it don`t you think? I know LeRoy has never had a raffle period but still manage to have a pretty nice fire department. How did they manage that? Now they say that the burden will be on the taxpayers. Well I am sure the people of Stafford paid taxes during the carnival years and will still be paying them after.

Ed Hartgrove
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Hi, Jim. So Stafford is the only one that you know of "that completely remodeled the fire hall and grounds like they did."
Am I to wonder if you've traveled the 100,000-plus miles of NY roads, checking out what each fire department has done? Sorry. I may be retired, but I haven't got time to wonder about what you do.

Secondly, they aren't my rules. They're listed as being NYS Gaming Commission guidelines. I had no hand or input to anything in those guidelines.

Thirdly, you asked, "If it was legal to sell them worldwide online, they all would have been doing it don`t you think?" I have no idea what other fire departments might, or might not, do. Again, my retirement schedule doesn't contain worrying what fire departments do.

Couldn't tell you about how Le Roy manages their fire department. Now, I do remember seeing a story, oh, maybe half-a-dozen years ago saying that Le Roy's taxes were somewhat higher than "like" villages in the region, but, again, that means NOTHING to me, so I don't worry about it. I didn't even "investigate" that claim, 'cause it doesn't matter to me.

As for Stafford residents taxes. I'm (just) guessing that theirs might be going up, as a result to this incident. But, again, don't know, and, don't care.

Just heard this morning, on WHAM radio, that Stafford was apparently out of compliance for several years (at least, I believe that's how it was worded). So, yes, they may have been doing something illegal for more than this season. And, again, don't know, and don't care. I have no family living in either the "hamlet' or town of Stafford. So, whatever happens in Stafford affects me not.

Jim Urtel Jr
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Well you sure have a lot to say on the matter for not having the time or caring!

Ed Hartgrove
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I could type for hours, if you wish, Jim. And still not care.

Jim Urtel Jr
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Just for you Ed from the Democrat newspaper so you know.

Lee Park, a spokesman for the Gaming Commission, said it's likely the raffle has been out of compliance with state's "regional" rules since they were created in 1996.

Those rules also prevent raffle organizers from collecting payment in the form of credit cards and checks. The Fire Department did both.

Stafford's raffle apparently flew under the commission's radar until someone called the commission late last year to complain about the way the tickets were being sold across the country.

Park said the rules are designed to create "a level of fairness" and make raffles regional to prevent larger groups from overshadowing the fundraising efforts of smaller organizations.

“The laws and regulations permitting raffles in New York state have been on the books for 20 years and have not changed," Park said, adding that the commission provides outreach to "ensure they are aware of these laws and regulations."

"We sincerely hope that this organization — and all charitable entities in the state — will legally raise funds for their important causes."

Ed Hartgrove
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Thanks, Jim!

I don't subscribe to the D&C. I used to read them online, but, since they've required a paid subscription, they've been just a memory to me.

That, and the fact that they had the word Democrat in their name, was reason enough to not pay attention any more!

And, just so you know, whatever happens in Stafford affects me not. But, thanks for the excerpt. Have a good day!

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