Friday, December 29, 2006 - Burning it up at both ends - Burning it up at both ends:
"HIDDEN TREASURES, Mendenhall Mall: Inconspicuous, with just a small sign facing the parking lot, Hidden Treasures is almost truly hidden in the south side of the mall by Super Bear Supermarket.
But with three customers at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and the barbs flying across the dealer pit, the action was furious.
'It's a world unto itself,' said Donnie Wells, in his ninth year of dealing. 'It's the most fun I've ever had at a job. 'People don't understand that there's a social aspect to this. Everybody knows each other. It's a friendly thing. It's just like a bar, but I don't have to put up with drunks in here.'
Hidden Treasures raises money for Juneau Dance Unlimited, the Juneau Montessori School and Southeast Alaska Friends of Montessori. Wells also distributes cards to Henry's and the Imperial Saloon. Henry's, a hotbed for pulltabs, carries almost 27 games.
'It's not like we sit here and take people's money,' Wells said. 'You have to find that balance between taking money for the charity and making sure players are staying in the game. It's all about playbacks. You have fun, and that's what you're supposed to do. You have a game that doesn't have any playbacks, and nobody plays. We can't sell those.'
Juneau charges a 5 percent sales tax on charitable gaming, and it's the only large municipality in Alaska to charge such a tax. If someone wins $2 on a card, the shop pays a dime of that to the city.
'The city and borough is making almost as much in here as the charity groups, and that's the truth,' Wells said. 'It's a tough market to make it. We barely made it last year. You give 30 percent to the nonprofit, then you've got your taxes, and your cost for space in the mall, wages and for buying th"
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