Although the Bingo Enabling Act requires that a person conducting charitable bingo must be licensed, some circumstances do not require licensing. Examples of license exempt organizations include:
A bingo game on behalf of an organization of individuals 60 years of age or over, a senior citizens’ association, a senior citizens’ community center, the patients in a hospital or nursing home, residents of a retirement home, the patients in a Veteran’s Administration medical center, or a military hospital, solely for the purpose of amusement and recreation of its members, residents, or patients.
A bingo game within the confines of a home for purposes of amusement or recreation and participation in the game does not exceed 15 players.
A business conducting the bingo game for promotional or advertising purposes if the game is conducted by or through a newspaper, a radio or television station does not require a license.
To confirm whether your organization is exempt, refer to the Bingo Enabling Act §2001.551(b) which provides the specific requirements for an organization to be exempt from the charitable bingo licensing requirement.
Do I need a letter of exemption?
A letter of exemption is required for promotional games. However, the Texas Lottery Commission does not provide letters of exemption for home games and games that meet the Over 60 requirements listed above, but relies upon those organizations that are exempt to conduct bingo occasions in accordance with the Bingo Enabling Act and Bingo Rules (Texas Administrative Code, Title 16, Section 402).
Are exempt organizations according to Bingo Enabling Act 2001.551 required to complete a form or contact Charitable Bingo Operations Division to conduct bingo?
No. The Bingo Enabling Act does not require persons exempt under Bingo Enabling Act §2001.551 to apply for an exemption. The Texas Lottery Commission Charitable Bingo Operations Division no longer considers a request for exemptions from licensing.
*Newspaper, radio and television stations do need to fill out FORMID 99 Notice of Promotional Bingo Game in order to be exempt.
How much can we charge participants to play bingo or can they play free?
They can play for free. If not free, no player or other person can furnish anything of more than nominal value for the opportunity to participate.
What is the amount of the prizes exempt organization can award?
Generally, prizes awarded, or to be awarded, will be nominal in value.
What is nominal value?
According to the Oxford English dictionary nominal means very small.
Can a visiting family member attend a Bingo session at our Senior Living facility?
Yes, if the requirements of §2001.551(b) (3) are met. One of the requirements of §2001.551(b) (3) is that bingo is conducted “solely for the purpose of amusement and recreation of its members, residents or patients.” If a bingo session is conducted only for this purpose and participation and prize costs are nominal, a visiting family member may attend.
Can exempt organizations conduct bingo for a fundraiser?
The short answer is no. The games will be played solely for the purposes of amusement and recreation of the members, residents or patients of the exempt organization. The games are not intended for any type of fundraising.
Do we have to purchase bingo supplies from a licensed distributor or can we purchase bingo supplies from a store or online?
An exempt organization is not required to purchase supplies from a licensed distributor. An exempt organization can purchase bingo supplies from an active licensed distributor, store, or online. TAC Title 16, Section 402.301(j) specifically states:
This rule shall not apply to bingo card/paper furnished for use by an organization receiving an exemption from bingo licensing in accordance with the Occupations Code, §§2001.551(b)(3)(A) and (B). The bingo card/paper may not contain the Commission seal.
However, if purchasing supplies from a licensed distributor the organization needs to complete FORMID 25 Purchaser’s Statement of Conduct of Exempt Bingo Game .
Can exempt organizations open the games to the public?
No, the games cannot be open to the general public.
We are having a family reunion at our home and the next family reunion will be at a park do we need a license for both?
To not require a bingo license under §2001.551 the game(s) must be played within the confines of a home for purposes of amusement or recreation; participation in the game does not exceed 15 players, and the prizes awarded, or to be awarded, are nominal.
So, you can only play in your home without a license. It is illegal to play bingo in a park.
Is there a penalty for conducting bingo if your organization is not an exempt organization?
Yes. Each entity is responsible for ensuring its compliance with §2001.551(b). Section 2001.551(c) provides that conducting, promoting, or administering bingo that does not comply with §2001.551(b)(3) is a third-degree felony.
Suppose I have questions about the or Bingo Rules?
You can always contact the Texas Lottery Commission’s Charitable Bingo Division at Bingo.Services@lottery.state.tx.us or 1–800–BINGO–77. A member of the Charitable Bingo Operations Division will typically respond by the close of the next business day.