PINE BLUFF (KATV) - A bingo hall battle is heating up in Pine Bluff, with one veterans group calling into question the name of a competitor. If you play bingo at a VFW or an American Legion, the money raised helps support those gathering spots for past and present members of the military. But what about a bingo hall called Ark-Vets? The commander of VFW Post 4455 in Pine Bluff is Lewie Brown. Brown was in Little Rock on Friday. We met him outside of an American Legion downtown. We asked him about one of his primary Pine Bluff bingo competitors...Ark-Vets, Inc. at 304 south Chestnut. "They're not a veterans organization," argues Brown. "They do not have a military charter or a veterans charter like we do." Ark-Vets is a licensed charitable bingo operator that is in good standing with the state. Ark-Vets bingo halls operate in Pine Bluff, Jonesboro and Springdale. According to IRS tax returns, Ark-Vets finished barely in the black in 2011 and slightly in the red in 2012. Charitable bingo halls must be staffed by volunteers. Income can be used to pay out winnings, pay rent and pay for other reasonable expenses. Any money left must be given to charity. "Does the money that your VFW makes benefit veterans?" "Yes," says Brown. "Does the money Ark-Vets makes benefit veterans?" "No," answers Brown. "Where does their money go? Do you have any idea?" "Ah...probably in their pockets," surmises Brown. "Well you're not allowed to do that." "No, no," agrees Brown. So what charities benefit from Ark-Vets charitable bingo? Owner Mike Scallion of Greenbrier says he has donated to Arkansas Children's Hospital and St. Jude's Hospital. Scallion couldn't name a specific veterans charity that Ark-Vets, Inc. supports but he says he has helped individual veterans in need in the past. Air date: June 6th, 2014
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