Wellersburg voters to take up small games of chance

April 3, 2019

Wellersburg Borough voters will be asked during the primary whether to allow small games of chance licenses in the borough.

Decades ago, municipalities passed resolutions to allow for small games of chance, but Wellersburg and four other Somerset County municipalities — Callimont and Casselman boroughs and Larimer and Northampton townships — were not among them.

The borough council approved a resolution in February, and the Somerset County Election Board agreed to place the question on the ballot during Tuesday’s meeting.

Wellersburg fire department President Keith Sturtz said that without a license, the fire department and other community organizations cannot hold any kind of gambling event, including cash bashes, 50/50 drawings, gun bashes and basket raffles.

“If someone wanted to rent (the ballpark) to raise funds, they can’t do it there,” he said.

Sturtz said that it was not a matter of residents being against the issue, but more a matter of the municipality never adopting a resolution.

“They never put it on the ballot when the small games of chance came out originally,” he said.

Sturtz said he hopes everyone accepts the resolution.

“It allows us to help save people when they are in need,” he said.

The Pennsylvania Local Option Small Games of Chance Act, which was passed in 1988, allows certain nonprofit organizations, such as fire departments, and for-profit taverns to conduct limited types of gambling. Organizations are supposed to use the proceeds for “public interest purposes,” such as underwriting youth sports activities, awarding scholarships and providing fire or ambulance services.

The primary is May 21.

Also during the meeting the board agreed to eliminate the elected borough auditor position in Shanksville. The borough council agreed to eliminate the elected position and replace it with an appointed independent auditor in 2016.