Bingo FAQ

1. How often may an organization conduct a bingo game?

Generally, only three (3) bingo sessions may be conducted in any given seven (7) day period. Volunteer firemen’s organizations or volunteer rescue organizations that do not conduct more than five (5) bingo sessions in a calendar year (such as at a local fair or festival) are not subject to this rule.

2. Are there any restrictions upon the time periods at which a bingo game may be conducted?

Yes, a traditional bingo session may not be conducted with in the ten hour time period of midnight and 10:00 a.m., within 10 hours of a bingo game conducted for amusement or at any time other that the day and time specified in an organization’ bingo application.

Instant bingo may not be conducted between 2:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.

3. Can the organization pay employees to provide concessions and conduct the bingo games?

No, bingo and concession operators must be volunteers and may not be paid for their services. Tipping or compensation in any manner directly or indirectly is expressly prohibited.

4. How much can the organization pay in rent for the bingo premises?

Generally, the maximum rent which may be paid to any lessor for a bingo premises is $450.00 per bingo session. If the bingo premises is owned by the organization conducting bingo, it may deduct from the gross receipts the lesser of 45% or $600.00 as consideration for the use of the premises.

5. Are there any required annual filings?

Bingo license applicants must comply with Ohio’s Charitable Trust Act and Ohio’s Charitable Organization Solicitation Act. If the applicant does not comply with the Acts, it will not qualify for a license or a renewal license. Prior to this amendment, new and renewal bingo applicants could technically qualify for a bingo license without complying with either of the above Acts.

Ohio’s Charitable Trust Act requires every charitable organization, other than those exempt by statute, to register with the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section.

Any organization that is required to register must also file an annual financial statement for any taxable year in which the organization has gross receipts in excess of $5,000 or gross assets exceeding $15,000. The financial report can be either a complete copy of the organization’s annual federal return (Form 990), or a completed copy of the Attorney General’s Annual Financial Report of Charitable Organization.

Additionally, Ohio’s Charitable Organization Solicitation Act requires every charitable organization, other than those exempted by statute that intends to solicit contributions in Ohio to register annually with the Attorney General’s Office Charitable Law Section. Bingo, raffles and games of chance are considered a solicitation, and therefore charitable organizations engaging in them must register.

Once licensed, the charitable organization must also renew its bingo license on an annual basis. The applications for the subsequent year are due on or before December 31, in order for the licensee to receive a temporary permit to conduct bingo in a subsequent year. It is advisable to file the renewal application by December 1.

License applications and other filing forms other forms relating to initial and renewal licensure are available through the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

6. How long does the licensing process take?

Prior to issuing a bingo license, the Lottery Commission will conduct an extensive investigation to ensure that the charitable organization meets all requirements of Ohio law. The Lottery Commission conducts the investigation pursuant to a memorandum of understanding with the Attorney General’s Office. This process is dependent entirely on the organization’s preparedness for the investigation.

7. Are there any restrictions for the location of the bingo premises?

Yes, a charitable organization must conduct its bingo games in the county where its principal place of business is located.

8. Can an organization change its location or dates of bingo sessions after a license has been issued?

Generally yes, although any amendments to the location or date of a bingo session must first be submitted to the Attorney General’s Office for its approval. For a request to be granted, the organization must provide sufficient evidence that “circumstances beyond its control” have made it impossible to conduct a bingo session on the date or at the location listed in its original bingo application. If permitted, an organization may only amend its application once in any given calendar year.

9. Are there restrictions for volunteers?

Yes, volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and any person who has been convicted of a felony or gambling offense cannot be a bingo game operator.

10. Can the organization serve alcohol at the bingo premises?

No, organizations are expressly prohibited from serving alcohol at premises where a bingo session is being conducted.

11. Can the organization pay a consultant to assist in performing any services related to the bingo game?

No, a bingo licensee may not compensate directly or indirectly a person to assist in performing any services in relation to a bingo game.

12. Are there any limitations on advertising?

Although there are no specific guidelines, the Attorney General’s policy is that all advertising expenditures must be reasonable and customary.

13. How much can the organization pay out each bingo session?

The maximum amount of prizes that may be paid out per bingo session is $6,000. Such amount includes bingo prizes and other prizes paid for “bonanza bingo” or any game of scheme of chance where the winner is determined by announcement of winning bingo.

14. Are instant bingo tickets considered prizes paid?

No, unless the ticket is determined by announcement of a winning bingo, prizes paid from the sale of instant bingo tickets are not counted towards the maximum prize amount per bingo session.

15. Who may serve as security during a bingo session?

Security personnel for a bingo game is limited to a sheriff, deputy sheriff, marshal, deputy marshal, township constable, a member of an organized municipal police department or a person who has successfully completed peace officer’s training. If the security personnel is compensated, the officers cannot perform any other service at the bingo session. This is controlled by R.C. § 2915.09 and R.C. § 2915.01(4).

16. How much can security personnel be paid?

Although there are no set limitations, security personnel may be paid a fee that is customary and reasonable for its services.

17. Can the lessor of the bingo premises provide security, concessions, bingo equipment or other type of service or equipment?

No, a non-charitable lessor may not provide bingo or concession operators, equipment or security personnel or any other type of service or equipment for a bingo game.

18. Does the organization need to track its bingo proceeds?

Yes, true and accurate records of attendance, prizes, receipts and expenses must be kept for each bingo session. The names and addresses of all winners of $100.00 or more must be recorded. Net proceeds from bingo must be deposited into a separate banking account from that of the organizations general operating account. All records must be maintained for a period of three years and are subject to audit by the Attorney General’s Office. This is controlled by R.C. § 2915.10.

20. What percentage of bingo proceeds can be used by veterans and fraternal groups for their expenses?

These groups can keep 75% of the first $250,000 of net profits from instant bingo. 50% of the net profits in excess of $250,000 must go to a charitable organization.