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Charitable Gaming


  • What kind of charitable or non-profit gaming is legal in Idaho?

      By Idaho Statute, only charitable/non-profit organizations can conduct bingo and raffles. All other gaming activities such as poker runs, Calcutta's and casino nights are strictly prohibited.

  • I want to hold a drawing. I am not a qualifying charitable or non-profit organization. How can I legally hold a drawing?

        Article III, Section 20 of the Idaho Constitution prohibits gambling with three exceptions: the state lottery, pari-mutuel betting, and charitable bingo and raffles. Each must conform with enabling legislation.

        A raffle is defined as “a game in which the prize is won by random drawing of the name or number of one (1) or more persons purchasing chances.” Only charitable organizations as defined in Idaho Code 67, Title 77 may conduct raffles that fall within the definition of gambling where there is prize, chance, and consideration. Consideration is anything of value, whether charged directly or indirectly, that is risked for a chance to win a prize.

        However, not all prize drawings, promotional or otherwise, constitute gambling.

        In fact, any entity (person, private retail business, private group, etc.) may conduct a prize drawing, promotional or otherwise, as long as there is no consideration paid, either directly or indirectly, in order to obtain a chance at winning the prize.

        An example of this would be if a group is holding a fund raising dinner and with your dinner you also receive a ticket or entry into a drawing. This is permissible as long as anyone can obtain a ticket or entry into this drawing without having to purchase a dinner or any other item. The language “No Purchase Necessary to Enter” must be clearly placed on all communication related to the drawing, including the ticket.

        In summary, ANY ENTITY may hold a drawing as long as anyone can request and receive an entry or ticket into the drawing without making a direct or indirect purchase of any kind.

        Further, and separately, the Idaho Constitution, Article III, Section 20, subsection (4), and Idaho Code 18-3801(4) does allow for merchant promotions as follows:

        (4) Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following are not gambling and are not prohibited by this section:

        a. Merchant promotional contests and drawings conducted incidentally to bona fide nongaming business operations, if prizes are awarded without consideration being charged to participants.

        An example of this is where a business selling something for profit offers promotional contests or drawings for chances to win prizes at no cost and with no purchase required of any product or goods. An example would be McDonald’s Monopoly game.

  • Who can qualify for a charitable or nonprofit bingo/raffle license?

      Any bona fide tax-exempt charitable or non-profit organization that has been in continuous existence for one year in the county where it intends to operate bingo/raffle games can qualify for a Charitable Gaming License. The charitable organization must have IRS tax-exempt status under section 501 ( c ) 3, 501 ( c ) 4, 501 ( c ) 6, 501 ( c ) 8, 501 ( c ) 10, 501 ( c ) 19, 501 (d) and be exempt from taxes under Title 63, Idaho Code. Non-profit organizations must be certified by the Secretary of State, as specified in the state statute, and the charitable contributions made from the proceeds of the bingo and/or raffle must be used for a charitable purpose as defined by IDAPA52, Title 01, and Chapter 02 - Gaming Rules. The term “non-profit organization” is defined by an organization incorporated under Chapter 3, title 30, of the Idaho Code.

  • How do you apply for a charitable or non-profit bingo/raffle license?

        Application packets can be obtained from the Idaho Lottery by calling Tina Miller, Charitable Gaming Coordinator at (208)334-2277 or via the forms at the bottom of THIS PAGE

        The application must be completed and returned with a non-refundable fee to the Idaho Lottery.

  • What is the cost of a charitable or non-profit bingo/raffle license?

        The fee the first year an organization is licensed is $100.00. The fee for subsequent years is based on the amount of gross annual revenues from the bingo and/or raffle(s) held by the organization as follows:

        Initial License (first year licensed) = $100

        Subsequent years:

        Less than $25,000 = $100
        $25,000 to $75,000 = $200
        Over $75,000 = $300

        Criminal Background Investigations are required for the organization president and/or chairman, treasurer, and the individual(s) who will be managing/coordinating the fundraising event(s). An organization may conduct both raffle and bingo games under one license.

  • Who is required to obtain a charitable or non-profit bingo/raffle license?

      A charitable or non-profit organization conducting a bingo game where the annual gross bingo revenue is OVER ten thousand dollars ($10.000.00) must obtain a license. Also, a charitable or non-profit organization must obtain a license for raffles, if the aggregate fair market value for all merchandise prizes EXCEEDS five thousand dollars ($5000). However, organizations not needing a license must still comply with all requirements of the law.

  • What qualifies as a bingo game?

      "Bingo" means the traditional game of chance played for a prize determined prior to the start of the game. Refer to Idaho Code 67-7702 for details.

  • What qualifies as a raffle?

      A raffle is a game in which the prize is won by a random drawing of the name or number of one or more persons purchasing chances. Raffles also include duck (or other inanimate toys) races.

  • What are the limits on bingo games?

      Bingo shall be limited to three 8-hour sessions per week (Sun-Sat), unless a special permit is issued for county fairs. The maximum top prize paid in cash or merchandise for any one game is $3,000. The maximum aggregate amount of prizes, in cash or merchandise offered at any one session (8-hour period) is limited to $25,000.

  • What are the limits on raffles?

      Raffles shall be limited to 12 events per license year. This limit shall not apply to public or private elementary or secondary schools located in the State of Idaho. The maximum cash prize offered for any one raffle is $1,000. If merchandise is used as a prize and is not redeemable for cash, there shall be no limit on the value of the merchandise. One event may include more than one raffle drawing.

  • Who governs the operation of bingo or raffles?

      The operation of bingo games or raffles shall be the direct responsibility of, and controlled by, the governing body of the charitable or nonprofit organization, regardless if a subcommittee is formed for the purpose of running the charitable gaming.

  • What are the penalties for violating the law?

      Violation of Chapter 77, Title 67, Idaho Code, can result in a civil penalty not in excess of $10,000 per violation and a criminal penalty of not more than a $1,000 fine and imprisonment of not more than 12 months in jail or both.

  • What accounting controls are required for bingo?

      All funds received in connection with a bingo game must be placed in a separate bank account. The only allowable expenditures are for prizes, advertising, rent, utilities, wages and purchases of equipment and supplies for bingo games and raffle events. All organizations must track bingo sales by sequentially numbered paper for audit purposes. Winner’s names and addresses for prizes exceeding $100 must be recorded by charitable or non-profit organizations. Records are to be retained by the organization for five years. All licensed organizations are required to file an Annual Report with the Idaho Lottery within 30 days from the end of the license year on forms prescribed by the Idaho Lottery.

  • What accounting controls are required for raffles?

      - Create a tracking system to record tickets sold. If tickets will be sold at different prices, create a tracking system that accounts for different ticket sale prices. For example if 1 ticket is sold for $1, or 6 tickets for $5. Number of tickets sold multiplied by price of tickets must equal gross ticket sales (ticket price X tickets sold = gross total).

      - Carefully track all raffle expenses. This includes credit card fees and any other ‘raffle only’ expenses.

      - Deposit all money raised from raffles into charitable bank account. Deposit raffle money separately for better tracking. Do not deposit ticket sales into a personal account.

      - Keep all records on file for a minimum of 5 years.​

  • What are the licensing procedures?

      Licensing charitable and/or non-profit organizations to conduct bingo and/or raffles is the responsibility of the Idaho Lottery. Upon receiving a complete application, the Idaho Lottery will approve or deny within 15 days. If approved, the Idaho Lottery will issue the license to the charitable or non-profit organization. Refusal to grant a license by the Idaho Lottery shall be communicated to the applicant in writing within 15 days of such action. The applicant may appeal the decision within 15 days and a hearing will be held within 21 days (of the action or appeal).

  • What percentages of gaming funds collected must be used for charitable or non-profit causes and expenses?

        BINGO: Bingo expenses cannot exceed 18% of gross revenue. A minimum of 20% of the gross revenue must be used for charitable purposes per Idaho Code 67-7709.

        RAFFLES: Not less than 80% of net raffle proceeds (net raffle proceeds equals total raffle sales less cost of prizes, except in the case of inanimate toy races) must be used for charitable or non-profit purposes per Idaho Code 67-7709.

  • How can a license be revoked, suspended or denied?

      The Idaho Lottery may revoke, suspend or deny a license for violation or non-compliance with state law, or Lottery rules concerning gaming. Additionally, by losing tax exempt status; by misrepresentation, fraud or concealment of facts and information to obtain a license or operate bingo/raffles; by denying the Idaho Lottery officials access to gaming location and books; or violation of criminal or civil laws pertaining to gaming.

If you have questions about this content, email tmiller@lottery.idaho.gov
Tina Miller, Charitable Gaming Coordinator
Idaho Lottery Enforcement Division - (208) 334-2277