ST. PAUL — A bill that would allow veteran's groups and fraternal organizations to tap into proceeds from their charitable gambling operations cleared the Minnesota Senate on Friday, May 15.

Senators approved the bill, which is aimed at relieving financial stress on the groups brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, by a vote of 67-0.

If signed into law, the bill would temporarily allow groups that offer gambling in the forms of bingo, paddle wheel, pull-tab, raffles and tipboards to lend themselves proceeds that typically are donated to charity or spent on "lawful purposes" such as taxes and regulatory fees. Ordinarily, the groups spend approximately 30% of gaming profits on the latter.

Legally, the remainder can only be used to cover operating costs like bar rent, wages and supplies, and must be kept in separate, special accounts. Proponents say that freeing up the money will help the civic hold onto their canteens, social halls and other facilities that have been closed by the ongoing stay-at-home order meant to curb the pandemic.

The state House of Representatives recently introduced its own version of the bill as well, though it was unclear Friday when or how the chamber would act on it.