'Nothing to see here, just move along'

Below is an excerpt from an upcoming article in the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper. It describes public financial figures relating to the now-defunct Brooten Commercial Club charitable gambling operation.

For example, in 2013, the entire system at five sites (Classic Co., KaDe Shack, Rooster's Bottle Shop, Rooney's Bar and Marcia's Bar) drew in $893,589 in gross receipts. Prizes paid out that year totaled $693,726. The club drew in $199,863 that was deposited into the gambling checking account. The club doled out $92,313 in charitable giving on the local level to a variety of local and school-related groups.

In 2016, the gross receipts totaled $789,839, and the club deposited $166,598 into the gambling checking account. Charitable donations paid out were $82,396.

In 2017, the gross receipts plummeted to $387,348, with the club having $94,528 deposited into the gambling checking account. Charitable giving was just $35,428.

"If you go through these last few years, I'm wondering why we, as a city, didn't put in anything to govern, someone we can go to. For the city, you have someone for a water (issue). Not for gambling," said Marcia Hallermann, one of two local bar owners who work with the Brooten Fire Department today but formerly were under the Brooten Commercial Club's gambling operation.

"Several times, I've had pull tabs taken out of my establishment. Not really given a reason," she said.

Hallermann pointed out that the city and the local bars make money from charitable gambling.

"In 2018, my profit (rent) that I was paid by my gambling manager was in two checks, for 12 months, for $897.60."

She pointed out that the gambling rules dictate that she was supposed to get a monthly rent check by the 20th of each month. In 2018, she received just two checks from the Brooten charitable gambling operation.

Later in the story, it was stated by a fire department member who is also a councilman that the Brooten Fire Relief Association, which holds the current gambling license in town, welcomes bar owners to attend their regular meetings. They have the ability to ask any question that they deem necessary and access any financial reports they are legally entitled to see.

When discussing the issue around town, a general sense is in the air that some people believe the line of "Hey, there's nothing to see here, just move along like it's no big deal."

But heaven forbid anyone asks questions about it!


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