Disclaimer: This article offers general information and is not intended as legal or professional advice. You should consult with legal counsel regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current as of August 23, 2021, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject discussed.
Charitable gaming events like raffles and bingo are some of the best ways to raise both awareness and money for an organization. With a great balance of low cost, easy implementation, and wide appeal, charitable gaming can be a great idea for any nonprofit. Charitable gaming is a great tool to drive cost-effective community engagement, making it an attractive option for nonprofits, charities, and foundations.
Charitable gaming and raffles regulatory guidance for Florida
How does the state of Florida define charitable gaming?
The state of Florida classifies charitable gaming into the following categories:
- Bingo: Bingo can only be hosted two days a week, with only three jackpots a day. The jackpot limit cannot exceed a value of $250, and other game prizes cannot be more than $50.
- Pull-Tabs: Also known as “Instant Bingo”, pull-tab tickets are legal for fundraising in Florida as of 2007
- Raffle: Nonprofit organizations may conduct so-called “drawings by chance” as long as strict disclosure rules are followed (these are spelled out in Florida Statute 849.0935(3))
Who can conduct online charitable gaming events in Florida?
Charities, nonprofits, and veterans’ organizations are all entitled to operate charitable gaming events in Florida.
Florida state law dictates that “Charitable, nonprofit, or veterans’ organization(s)” may operate raffles, bingo, and pull-tabs. A “Charitable, nonprofit, or veterans’ organization” is any organization that has qualified for exemption from federal income tax as an exempt organization under the provisions of s. 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. In addition, said group must be involved in “charitable, civic, community, benevolent, religious, or scholastic works or other similar activities” and be at least 3 years old.
Further, any proceeds raised from such events must be donated by the organizer to further one of the above-mentioned causes (charitable, civic, community, benevolent, religious, or scholastic works). It is also worth noting that such events may not be carried out on school property, even if the event is being run by—and raising money for—a school.
Lastly, according to Florida statute 849.0931(2)(b), “It is the express intent of the Legislature that no charitable, nonprofit, or veterans’ organization serve as a sponsor of a bingo game or instant bingo conducted by another, but such organization may only be directly involved in the conduct of such a game as provided in this act.”
Licensing and registration requirements for online charitable gaming in Florida
The state of Florida requires no special license for operating charitable gaming as gambling is generally illegal in Florida. However, certain 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are exempt from this law.
It is important to note, however, that it is illegal to “require an entry fee, donation, substantial consideration, payment, proof of purchase, or contribution as a condition of entering the drawing or of being selected to win a prize.” However, it is possible to request a “minimum donation” so long as this information is clearly labeled.
However, individual counties may have their own unique requirements. Here’s an overview of the requirements for the top five counties (by population size):
- Miami-Dade County does not require any licenses for charitable gaming.
- Broward County and Palm Beach County have no specific regulations regarding charitable gaming.
- Hillsborough County requires approval from the Director of the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department for nonprofit groups to run a charity gaming event.
- Orange County follows the same laws as laid out in the state of Florida statutes.
Do note that there are still several disclosure requirements for operating charity gaming in Florida. All raffles must fully disclose:
- The rules governing the conduct and operation of the drawing.
- The full name of the organization and its principal place of business.
- The source of the funds used to award cash prizes or to purchase prizes.
- The date, hour, and place where the winner will be chosen and the prizes will be awarded, unless the brochures, advertisements, notices, tickets, or entry blanks are not offered to the public more than 3 days prior to the drawing.
- That no purchase or contribution is necessary.
Charitable gaming resources for Florida
Florida Department of Revenue
Florida Department of Revenue
P. O. Box 6668
Tallahassee, FL 32314-6668
Office of the Governor
Office of Governor Ron DeSantis
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Office of the Attorney General
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Florida Office of Financial Regulation
200 E. Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Post Office Box 8050
Tallahassee, FL 32314-8050