Entrepreneur Tries to Take Charitable Gambling to New Heights

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January 25, 2012; Source: Kalamazoo Gazette | This isn’t church bingo. In Kalamazoo, Mich., local entrepreneur Ryan Reedy had plans to open up three “mini-casinos.” Reedy’s corporate name is Charity Events, Inc. and his first planned casino, Black Jacks Casino & Sports Bar, was set to operate in the patio bar of the Wild Bull Saloon and Steak House.

Reedy planned to get nonprofits to serve as hosts or sponsors of the Las Vegas-style gaming for charity fundraising events. The plan was that nonprofits licensed by the Michigan Lottery would be able to put on up to 16 days of gaming a year, and Reedy would provide the mini-casino location, the gambling equipment, and staff (while the nonprofit would provide a person or two to sell the chips and collect the cash). Reedy and the nonprofit would then split the proceeds 50-50. 

The licenses required to hold such events are called “Millionaire Party Licenses,” which nonprofits obtain to run Monte Carlo nights and other somewhat more typical nonprofit gambling-oriented fundraisers. As Reedy sees it, he is giving nonprofits a different, more attractive, more glitzy approach to gaming. 

Although Reedy was ready to get going and says that he had 30 nonprofits lined up, the Michigan Lottery’s charitable gaming division stepped in to call a halt. Reedy had announced early in January that he had the state’s approval, but the gaming division says that was a misunderstanding. Reedy has taken his delayed opening in stride, indicating that the state’s intervention was simply part of the governor’s desire to take a look at new casino licenses. 

Reedy’s firm may be named “Charity,” but he is looking at the non-charitable part of the 50-50 split to keep himself going and profitable. How do nonprofits feel about the emergence of Las Vegas-style casinos sponsored by nonprofits? No worse than bingo for charitable fundraising or a contributing factor to the disease of gambling? –Rick Cohen

  • Nancy Straw

    Recommended reading on this topic,”Uncharitable,” by Dan Pallotta. Do we (as nonprofits) pass up the opportunity to make 50% of a large fundraising opportunity because there is also a for-profit entity that benefits? Food for thought….