JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- More than 200 people attended Tuesday's Clay County Commission meeting, where many argued the use of electronic gaming machines as a means of fundraising by local non-profits.
More than 20 local veterans organizations pushed for an amendment to change a zoning law, that would allow 127 qualifying organizations to use up to five gaming machines at established locations.
"If we had these machines then we could spend more," said Lawrence Hill, Commander of the VFW Post 1988 in Green Cove Springs.
Hill says VFW bylaws require they perform certain charitable acts each year, many of which help Clay County's 39,000 veterans, but donations are running half of what they were.
"In years' past at this time I've had $60,000 to give, but because of the economy everyone is having problems."
Family advocates argued, however, that there are other ways for these organizations to make money without providing hundreds of new "gambling" opportunities.
"I started multiplying five machines at each one and I came up with 635," said Mary Lib Stevenson, President of the Clay County Family Policy Forum. "I started thinking, this isn't a small thing. ... We have a family atmosphere here and we want to keep it that way."
Three out of five commissioners agreed, and voted against the amendment.
Hill says his organization will continue to push for the machines in the future.
"We just have to make more money to do this. We're veterans and we're not going to quit."