charitable gaming
Best Practices

Bingo & Raffle Games

Bingo and Raffle games can only be offered by non-profits as defined in Idaho Code. All nonprofits conducting bingos or raffles, regardless of game size, must adhere to Idaho Code and Rules.


Read and Fully Understand the Idaho Code and Administrative Rules

Make sure the organization reads and fully understands the Idaho Code and Administrative Rules listed under Code and Rules on the web page located at here. Check with Idaho Lottery employees if you have questions about any of the laws before you begin


Visit Other Bingo Halls and Learn About All of the Games

Contact other local bingo halls and ask to tour their establishment. Ask questions such as: how they operate, how they complete their accounting, how much they charge per game, and an estimate of their gross annually. Remember that theirs is an established game and you probably will not gross as much your first few years, so expect and plan on a lower annual gross until you are an established game. It's important to gain as much knowledge regarding bingo before your organization invests in equipment and time.

Cost of bingo equipment

Call licensed vendors listed on the web listed under "Licensed Vendors", and ask for quotes on bingo equipment. Contact all the vendors and compare new machines vs. used machines. Occasionally vendors will have used equipment that may work for your bingo game at a significantly lower cost to the organization.

When pricing equipment, keep in mind that you will have to pay for the equipment out of the bingo proceeds and this falls under bingo expenses. Since the machines are a large expenditure upfront, you can ask for payment options through the vendors, or agree on a payment plan to pay the equipment back to your organization. Contact the Idaho Lottery for further information.

Equipment Needed

Bingo blower or bingo console


This is the main machine which tumbles the balls and controls all of the mechanical equipment.


A flashboard


This is a lighted board which displays the patterns you are looking for, as well as the balls called.


75 bingo balls certified from a vendor


Make sure these balls are always clean and dent free. Always store these balls in a safe place and inspect for any missing or damaged balls before each session begins. Most halls have at least two sets of balls to ensure a fair game.


TV monitor and camera


Install a camera and TV monitor to show the balls that are pulled from the bingo blower. This clearly shows the players that there is no tampering and that you offer a reputable game. All equipment must be purchased from a vendor licensed in the state of Idaho. Please see the list of licensed vendors located on the web page


Make a Business Plan

Run bingo as if you were running a regular business. Make a business plan and address the following:

Bingo Equipment
Cost of equipment and the period of repayment

Employees/Volunteers
How many employees will you need?

-Most organizations have at least one cashier, one caller, and one floor worker. If you have a larger game, plan on recruiting more help.

-Are they volunteers or are they paid workers? If you plan on paying these workers, remember that you are only allowed up to 18% in expenses for the whole year, which includes employees. Most organizations gather as many volunteers as they can to reduce costs.

-Make sure all employees are very well trained and passionate about raising money for your organization. Customer service is essential.

Price of Packets and Games
How much will you charge for games, and how many games do you plan on playing each session? Keep in mind that your payout is determined by the cost of each pack. Check in your area for the appropriate rate. Also remember that the more players you have, the higher the payouts. Encourage players to bring family and friends.

Estimate Annual Gross
Set a goal for the number of players you would like to attract per session. Assume that each person will buy at least one full pack, and calculate an annual gross based on these numbers. Estimate the number of players low in the beginning to get a conservative annual gross. This will give you an estimate of how much you have for expenses and donation before you begin playing. Make sure you can meet the required percentages based on your calculated gross.

Payout Percentage
Set a percentage for payout. As an organization just beginning, try to keep this number conservative to allow for mistakes or a slow market. Most organizations will start with about a 55-60% payout to allow for expenses and the minimum 20% charitable donation requirement.

Venue
Where are you going to hold your games? Do you have to rent a building, or are you using your organization's building? Paying rent is a huge cost to a new bingo hall. If your organization has a building, holding the games in this building could save a great deal of money. If you must rent, make sure to calculate your rent, deposit, and all applicable utility costs into your bingo expenses.

Cost of Bingo Paper
Check the vendor list and decide who you will buy your bingo paper from. After you receive a price quote, estimate how much paper you will need based on the number of players you expect to attend.

Office Equipment
Do you have all of the necessary office equipment such as: cash register, safe to secure money, a place to keep and lock up your paper, computer, printer, and other various office equipment.

Number of Sessions
You can hold up to three 8 hour sessions per week. Determine how many nights per week you would like to hold sessions based on the availability of your venue, volunteers/employees, and player participation.

House Rules

Of course all Idaho Code and Rules must apply to all bingo halls; however there are a few areas where an organization could include a few of their own rules. Visibly post house rules and/or print them on the back of your game sheets. Set policies for your players to establish things such as:

-You must call "Bingo" on the last number called.
-If you have a Bingo it is your responsibility to be heard and seen.
-No one is allowed on the bingo floor if they are not playing bingo.
-A number is officially called when any sounding of the row or number is announced.

These are just some examples of house rules. Visit other bingo halls for ideas of house rules you may want to set for your organizations.

Advertise

Advertise your game and attract players. There are a number of options:
-word of mouth

-collect player information and offer specials
- offer frequent player cards or free games for people who bring a new player
- create a Facebook page
- post signs in town
- join forces with local businesses
- hang flyers
-advertise in local newspapers or bingo bugle

Good Customer Service

Greet your players, learn their names and get to know them, and make them feel welcome. Be honest and upfront with all players and run an honest game. Make bingo fun!

Hire or find friendly and knowledgeable volunteers. Have training sessions to ensure all workers understand their responsibilities and your expectations.

Try to find enough help that your volunteers or employees don't suffer from bingo burnout.

Cash Handling and Documentation

Make sure you have a clear nightly log that shows all the information required by the Idaho Code and Administrative Rules. You can find examples of a nightly log located on the web page under "Forms".

Make a general ledger that shows number of players, total gross, and total payout per session. Also record all donations on this sheet along with all bingo related expenses.

Keep up on your paperwork and have someone check your numbers. This will make completing the annual report easy and allow you to easily track your percentages to ensure you are adhering to the Idaho Code requirements.

Bingo & Raffle Games

Bingo and Raffle games can only be offered by non-profits as defined in Idaho Code . All nonprofits conducting bingos or raffles, regardless of game size, must adhere to Idaho Code and Rules.


Read and Fully Understand the Idaho Code and Administrative Rules

Make sure the organization reads and fully understands the Idaho Code and Administrative Rules listed under Code and Rules on the web page located at here. Check with Idaho Lottery employees if you have questions about any of the laws before you begin


Research Other Idaho Raffles to Determine Best Practices for Your Raffle

Contact other nonprofits who are conducting games similar to what you wish to conduct, and ask how they operate, how they complete their accounting , how much they charge per ticket, and an estimate of their gross and net proceeds.


Remember that theirs is an established raffle and you probably won't gross as much your first few years, so expect and plan on a lower annual gross until you are established. It is important to gain as much knowledge regarding raffles before beginning a raffle, whether it's a 50/50 drawing or a prize drawing. Know the cash and non-cash limits for raffles.

Make a Business Plan

Run a raffle as if you were running a regular business. Be sure to follow the Idaho Code and Administrative Rules related to Raffle. Make a business plan and address the following:

Prizes
Prizes must be owned by the nonprofit, and must be given away even if the organization fails to raise enough money to cover the cost of the prize.

What are Your Projected Costs, Expenses, and Breakeven Points?
Make sure to know how many tickets must be sold to cover the cost of prizes as well as expenses related such as ticket printing, advertising, employees, etc. If you plan on paying employees, remember that you need to closely monitor total expenses to stay in compliance with the mandated 20% expenses cap. Most organizations gather as many volunteers as they can to cut down on costs.

Ticket Sales
Who will sell tickets and how will tickets be sold? Will you have many ticket outlets? Will you track demographic information in a database for future contact? Make sure your system is in place prior to sales. Document and reconcile proceeds and ticket inventory often.

Contest Rules
Clearly articulate your rules for prize distribution, breakeven, etc. on the ticket or with the ticket (or on website) so ticket buyers are informed about how to claim prizes. What happens if you don't reach the breakeven point? Have a plan. Note the plan in the Contest Rules.

Employees/Volunteers
Who will be responsible for ticket sales, inventory, reconciliation? Make sure all employees /volunteers are very well trained and passionate about raising money for your organization. Good customer service is essential.

Promotion and Advertising

Be creative, get volunteers informed and involved. A marketing plan is recommended.

Cash Handling and Documentation

Build your ticket sales and cash handling tracking system based on the required information for your annual report as well as best business practices.

Draw Your Winners Publicly

Get your community involved in the drawing. Use a public figure and conduct your raffle in public to establish trust among the community. Use this opportunity to bring awareness to your organization.

Bingo & Raffle Games

Bingo and Raffle games can only be offered by non-profits as defined in the Idaho Code . All nonprofits conducting bingos or raffles, regardless of the game size, must adhere to Idaho Code and Rules.


Read and Fully Understand the Idaho Code and Administrative Rules

Make sure the organization reads and fully understands the Idaho Code and Administrative Rules listed under Code and Rules on the web page located at here. Check with Idaho Lottery employees if you have questions about any of the laws before you begin


The Credibility of Your Nonprofit is Critical and Should be Protected.

All individuals involved should be ethical, presentable and have excellent customer service skills. All efforts should be made to retain participant's trust and your nonprofit's reputation should be protected.

Check Idaholottery.com regularly

Check for updates on law amendments, vendor changes, or any other important information

Always Contact the Lottery if You Have Any Problems

If any problems should arise, such as theft, difficulty meeting percentages, or any other questions you might have, contact the Lottery. The Lottery employees handle these types of issues daily and can best guide the organization in next steps.

Contact the Bingo/Raffle Advisory Board

There is a list of individuals on the Idaho Lottery Web Page under "Bingo Raffle Advisory Board" who have been appointed by the Governor to assist you in Charitable Gaming. These individuals are very experienced and can answer most questions you may have.

Always Monitor your Expenses, Donations, and Payouts

To ensure you meet the requirements set forth under Idaho Code, Title 67, Chapter 77, regularly calculate the gaming percentages. Early detection will allow you time to lower your payouts or expenses and bring your organization back into compliance.

Know When to Submit the Organization's Paperwork

The Lottery sends reminders, however, it is the non-profit's responsibility to make sure to secure, complete and submit the required documentation. Submit the license renewal at least 30 days prior to license expiration, and submit the Annual Report no later than 30 days after license expiration.

Create Paperwork Everyone Can Understand

Make sure the documentation is clear and as simple. Make sure you include all information as required by law.

Track your Bingo Paper and Raffle Tickets

All cash and games/tickets MUST be closely tracked for both bingo and raffle games. They should be treated like "inventory" so you can easily reconcile your documentation with funds received.

Create a System of Checks and Balances

Do not leave all of the responsibility to ONE person. Elect a Bingo and/or Raffle manager and an individual separate from the Board of Directors (or staff) to reconcile the cash flow and bingo/raffle sales and reconcile bank deposits.

Perform Random Audits of the Documentation

Your supporters trust the nonprofit to be ethical and to run a quality game. Be sure to check the game regularly and invite an external review periodically from a reputable accountant.

Please note that the above documentation includes suggestions intended to assist charitable organizations work within the confines of Idaho Code and Administrative Rule. Wherever applicable, compliance with Idaho Code and Administrative Rule supersedes any information provided on these pages.

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