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 July 27, 2021, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject discussed.
Charitable gaming is a great way to incentivize donors, involve the community and generate buzz around a cause of your choosing. For nonprofit organizations, charitable gaming can help to increase revenues by offering games and activities like Catch the Ace, 50/50 raffles and more.
No matter the cause you’re supporting through your organization, charitable gaming can serve as an excellent avenue for furthering your mission and ultimately driving donations. However, before you launch into charitable gaming activities of any sort, it’s crucial to be aware of the laws and regulations surrounding charitable gaming in your state or local area to avoid getting into trouble or incurring a fine.
Charitable gaming and raffles regulatory guidance for Oregon
How does the state of Oregon define charitable gaming?
The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) defines charitable gaming as:
“Charitable gaming regulated by the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) consists of bingo, raffle and Monte Carlo events in which the proceeds are used to fund the activities of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. It does not include tribal casinos, which are federally regulated with local oversight provided by the Oregon State Police's Gaming Enforcement Division.”
The DOJ defines Monte Carlo as an event featuring casino-style games like dice, roulette and Texas Hold’em, minus the real money. Instead, players in a Monte Carlo game are rewarded with imitation money, which can be used to purchase non-cash prizes.
Other charitable gaming practices outlined by the DOJ include social gaming and door prize drawings.
Who can conduct charitable gaming events in Oregon?
As outlined by the DOJ, organizations that are exempt from paying federal income taxes (i.e., nonprofits) may engage in charitable gaming events. Before getting started with charitable gaming, your non-profit group must have been actively engaged in activities and registered as a tax-exempt organization for at least a year prior to applying.
Licensing requirements for online charitable gaming in Oregon
Any nonprofit organization hoping to conduct charitable raffle, bingo or Monte Carlo games in the state of Oregon must have a license provided by the state DOJ.
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule including:
- Nonprofit organizations whose gross sales from a bingo game doesn’t exceed $2,000 per session or $5,000 per calendar year
- Nonprofit organizations whose gross sales from a raffle doesn’t exceed $10,000 per calendar year
- Nonprofit organizations whose gross sales from Monte Carlo events doesn’t exceed $2,000 per event or $5,000 per calendar year
Some additional licensing and registration requirements:
Some nonprofit organizations will be required to register under Oregon's Charitable Trust and Corporations Act, while some corporations may be required to register through the Corporations Division of the Oregon Secretary of State.
Plus, if alcoholic beverages are involved in prizes, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission must be notified. For more information on licensing requirements, contact your local district attorney or city hall office.
Types of charitable gaming licenses
There are separate licenses required for bingo, raffle and Monte Carlo events, and each category is also separated by class depending on the gross sales of the event. The higher the sales of the event, the stricter the controls put in place by the DOJ.
How to apply for a charitable gaming license in Oregon?
Applying for a license to conduct charitable gaming in Oregon is easy. All you need to do to apply is select the kind of license and class you’ll need from the list of options, fill out an application form and submit it to the gaming office.
How much does a charitable gaming license cost in Oregon?
Depending on your needs, licenses range in price from $20 to $300, and the cost is non-refundable. There are also additional costs for annual reporting requirements. Learn more about the cost of a charitable gaming license in Oregon.
What is the validity of a charitable gaming license in Oregon?
Once you’re granted a charitable gaming license in Oregon, the license will be valid for a period of 12 months unless it is revoked, suspended, expired or canceled. You’ll be required to file renewal applications every year to avoid losing your organization’s license.
How long does it take to obtain a charitable gaming license in Oregon?
Once the department receives your complete application, they have a period of 60 days to grant you a license or deny your application. In most cases, a decision is made before the 60-day mark.
Monitoring of charitable gaming events in Oregon
If you’re going to be running charitable gaming activities in Oregon, you’ll want to keep all your documents above board and up-to-date in case of an unannounced inspection. The DOJ regularly conducts audits of all documents, cash records and reports to ensure your organization is abiding by the laws. In addition, your organization will be required to file annual reports to the DOJ for these purposes.
Failing to adhere to government guidelines on charitable gaming can result in criminal charges, fines and potentially thousands in legal fees (depending on the situation). It’s always best to consult with a lawyer who’s knowledgeable about charitable gaming and raffle laws in your area.
Charitable gaming resources for Oregon
Charitable Gaming Registrar
Oregon Department of Justice
Charitable Activities Section – Gaming Unit
100 SW Market Street, Portland, OR 97201-5702
Internal Revenue Service
TE/GE Division, Customer Service
P.O. Box 2508, Cincinnati, OH 45201
Toll Free: 1-877-829-5500
Oregon State Police Gaming Enforcement Division
4190 Aumsville Highway SE, Salem, OR 97317