Nightlife

AmVets loses national charter

| November 04, 2010

Just a week after AmVets manager Mike Might pleaded guilty in Missoula District Court to operating gaming machines without a license, the national service organization announced that it is revoking the Ryman Street bar's charter.

"It will no longer be able to operate under the AmVets brand," says Jay Agg, national communications director for AmVets. "It's definitely warranted, given the situation, given that Mr. Might has pleaded guilty to a number of charges."

Might declined to comment for this article. But according to charging documents, Might, who has managed AmVets for decades, told state gaming officials that he simply put off renewing his licenses.

"He said that it was really stupid on his part," the records state, "but between health problems and running two businesses it just didn't get done."

Missoula County Prosecutor Fred Van Valkenburg alleged in June that Might illegally operated several video gaming machines for nearly 20 months.

The loss of AmVets' charter is just the latest challenge for the embattled underground bar. It was shut down by the Missoula City-County Health Department in September for an array of critical violations, including sewage backup behind the bar's walk-in refrigerator, rotten plumbing and a "large amount of mold growth," according to a health department report.

In January, a woman confined to a wheelchair alleged that Might and his staff discriminated against her based on her disability. Might disputed the allegation in an interview with the Independent, and claimed the charge was an attack fueled by the local gay community. AmVets has won the Independent's Best of Missoula readers' poll for Best LGBT Scene the last three years.

Additionally, between 2001 and 2008, the Montana Department of Labor (DOL) filed four workers' compensation liens against the bar totaling approximately $13,000 because it evidently failed to provide workers' compensation coverage and pay the penalty.

Might's sentencing on the gambling charges is set for the end of December. Whatever happens, in the wake of AmVets pulling its charter, it's clear Might will no longer be able to operate under the tax exempt status he has enjoyed for decades.

"That will likely impact his business," Agg says.

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