City Loses Bid to Halt Bingo Game

Times Staff Writer

A Superior Court judge has blocked an attempt by Los Angeles officials to suspend the license of a Woodland Hills bingo game, clearing the way for the city's largest and most profitable charity gambling operation to continue Saturday.

Judge Jack T. Ryburn ruled Wednesday that a proposed 30-day suspension of a license held by Identity, a nonprofit corporation that assists physically handicapped youth, was unwarranted. Ryburn had earlier refused to allow the city Social Service Department's bingo division to revoke the license.

Identity founder Edith Ryan termed Ryburn's action an "exoneration" of her bingo game, which over an 18 month-period ending last November grossed $6.3 million. Identity officials said they have spent $337,631 so far for charitable purposes.

The suspension attempt was announced March 6 after bingo division officials accused Ryan's group of misspending money earmarked for charity in violation of city and state laws that mandate the use of bingo revenues for charitable purposes and prohibit game workers from being paid.

The city complained that Ryan loaned $20,000 of charity money to Identity's accountant and purchased bingo supplies from a volunteer game number-caller. State law prohibits organizers from receiving profits from games, city officials said.

Ryan said the alleged violations were minor and complained that the suspension order was part of a pattern of harassment by city officials that Identity suffered when it moved its game from Canoga Park's Fallbrook Square to a new facility in the Warner Center area.

Bob Burns, bingo division director, said he told Ryan Thursday that he has imposed a retroactive 120-day suspension effective from last Nov. 15 through March 14--the period when Identity closed in order to relocate.

Although the suspension did not affect Ryan's actual bingo operation, it will go into Identity's record, Burns said.

Identity's games will resume at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

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