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 26, 2021, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject discussed.
With a great balance of low cost, easy implementation, and wide appeal, charitable gaming can be a great idea for any nonprofit. As a fundraiser, events such as bingo, raffles, or sweepstakes represent a great means of creating community engagement, making online charitable gaming an attractive option for nonprofits. Nonprofit charitable, religious, fraternal, veterans, educational, business, or labor groups are allowed to apply for licenses to run charity games such as bingo and raffles in Illinois.
Charitable gaming and raffles regulatory guidance for Illinois
Gambling of all forms is tightly regulated in Illinois. Any group wishing to run a charity gaming event must secure proper licensure and adhere to all appropriate regulations.
How does the state of Illinois define charitable gaming?
Section (230 ILCS 30/2) of the Illinois state code considers bingo, pull-tabs, and 14 “games of chance” as eligible for charitable gaming. The 14 “games of chance” involve cards, dice, wheels, random selection of numbers, and gambling tickets which may be conducted at charitable games events listed as follows: roulette, blackjack, poker, pull tabs, craps, bang, beat the dealer, big six, gin rummy, five card stud poker, chuck-a-luck, keno, hold-em poker, and merchandise wheel).
Raffles are illegal under Illinois state law, however, individual counties and municipalities may allow for them under local ordinances. For example, Chicago allows for charity raffles under the same regulations as Illinois state charity gaming licenses.
Who can conduct online charitable gaming events in Illinois?
Illinois only allows “bona fide religious, charitable, labor, fraternal, youth athletic, senior citizens’, educational, or veterans’ organizations in Illinois,” to conduct online gaming events. Additionally, the organization must have existed for a minimum of five years before license application. Exceptions are made for nonprofit organizations that have existed for only two years but are chapters of a national organization that has existed for a minimum of five years. Senior centres may also run bingo games provided that they follow specific requirements.
Licensing and registration requirements for online charitable gaming in Illinois
Types of charitable gaming licenses
Illinois has three types of charity gaming licenses: bingo, ‘games of chance’, and pull-tabs/jar games. All charity gaming licenses are issued by the Illinois Department of Revenue. Licenses for raffles are left up to each individual county or municipality. The largest Illinois county—Cook County—allows for charity raffles in line with the state’s requirements for other forms of charity gaming.
In addition to the standard bingo and ‘games of chance’ licenses, nonprofits may apply for a limited license allowing up to two events per year.
How to apply for a charitable gaming license in Illinois?
Applications for all state-issued charity gaming licenses in Illinois can be found on the Illinois Department of Revenue website.
For bingo, applying organizations need to file Form RB-3, Bingo Application for License. This can be done online on the MyTax Illinois website or by mail. Applicants must also fill out Form RB-40, List of Bingo Workers. Further, Form RB-32, Expenditure of Funds Earned Through Bingo is required for license renewals.
For ‘games of chance’, applicants must file Form RCG-1, Charitable Games Application for License. This can be done either on the MyTax.illinois.gov website or by mail. Applicants must also fill out Forms RCG-2, List of Charitable Games Workers, and RCG-10, Diagram of Charitable Games Event Playing Area. For license renewals, Form RCG-25, Expenditure of Funds Earned Through Charitable Games is also required.
How much does a charitable gaming license cost in Illinois?
A standard charity gaming license for ‘games of chance’ is $400 every two years. This allows holders to run up to four events in a year.
A standard bingo license in Illinois costs $200 for an annual license or $600 for a triennial license. This license allows the holder to run one bingo session per week, but not more than 25 games per session. A limited license costs $50 and allows holders to run up to two bingo events in a year. These bingo events may not last more than five days.
What is the validity of a charitable gaming license in Illinois?
Licenses for ‘games of chance’ are valid for two years from the date of issue. Bingo licenses in Illinois are valid for one calendar year from the date of issue or three years for a triennial license.
Charitable gaming resources for Illinois
Illinois Department of Revenue
Office of Bingo & Charitable Games 3-215
PO Box 19480
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9480
Illinois Gaming Board
160 North LaSalle
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706