SORRENTO – The Town Council at its regular meeting Tuesday conducted a public hearing on a proposed ordinance which would allow video bingo in the town, but deferred adoption of the ordinance to another meeting.
Council members agreed to charge the building lessor and the gaming device distributor $250 fees, and charity organizations participating in the bingo operation a $35 fee.
Members also agreed to word the ordinance to allow location of the bingo building no closer than 500 yards from schools and churches.
Three representatives of XL Bingo LLC, also known as Bingo LLC, a gaming machine distributor from Metairie, attended the entire meeting Tuesday, as did Sybil Harrison, who represented a St. Amant firm interested in applying for a commercial lessor game license.
Bingo LLC operates in Chalmette, New Iberia, and is building two parlors in St. Tammany Parish, according to Jak Kunstler, a principal in the firm. He said the firm is owned by four people including a lawyer, a real estate agent and an owner of hospitals. He said the firm plans to have 18 video parlors operating in Louisiana by year’s end.
Much of the public hearing was taken up with discussion over how much money the gaming device distributor, who under state law operates video bingo concurrent with charitable groups conducting call bingo, would receive under its agreement with the town.
Both Kunstler and Richard Tate, chief financial officer for Bingo LLC, refused to answer specifics about their business operation and finances, but said they would provide answers to council members in a private session.
On one occasion Kunstler walked up to the front of the council chambers and spoke at length to Melancon and council members in a hushed voice, with his back to the public.
His voice and those of the council members were inaudible from the audience.
Later, when Melancon and the council attempted to call an unannounced executive session to discuss specifics of a possible agreement with Bingo LLC, attorney Greg Lambert said the council could not legally go into the session.
After the meeting, Kunstler invited council members to meet with the Bingo LLC group at an area restaurant, and two councilmen said they would do so.
In unrelated business, the council adopted an amendment to its firearm ordinance that opens the door to a cooperative endeavor between the School Board and the LSU Agricultural Center in order to let an area 4H gun safety organization conduct shooting activities at the Ascension Civic Center on Saturdays and Sundays.