Odds getting better for return of bingo to Tennessee - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Odds getting better for return of bingo to Tennessee

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NASHVILLE (News Sentinel) -

Bingo games to benefit charitable causes, explicitly banned in Tennessee after the 1980s "Rocky Top" state government corruption scandal, could return on a limited basis under legislation approved by a Senate committee.

"There's nothing inherently evil about bingo," Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, told the Senate State and Local Government Committee, adding those involved in the FBI investigation that led to more than 50 convictions "could have got into the same trouble" with "reverse lotteries or raffles."

In the 1970s, Tennessee's Legislature legalized bingo gambling for charity fundraising. The FBI probe found that many of the charities were bogus fronts for organized gambling activities and state enforcement officials — working under the Secretary of State's office — had taken bribes and were otherwise actively involved with the gambling.

Secretary of State Gentry Crowell committed suicide in 1989 just before he was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury, which was widely expected to indict him.

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