October 5, 2005
By: Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst
You asked what kind of gambling related activities organizations may conduct to raise money for a graduation at their local schools. You also want copies of the guidelines for conducting these activities.
Subject to state law and Division of Special Revenue (DSR) regulations, educational organizations may promote, operate, or sponsor bingo, bazaars, and raffles. They may also sell sealed tickets at bingo games and bazaars and in conjunction with social events they conduct or sponsor. They cannot conduct Las Vegas nights games of chance, including money wheel and merchandize prize wheel games.
Organizations wishing to promote or conduct any of the legally permissible gaming activities should contact DSR at 1-800-338-6331 or 860-594-5480 for more detail about qualifications and help in obtaining the requisite permits. We have attached a copy of the charitable gaming statutes (CGS §§ 7-169 through 7-186) and summarized some of the major provisions below. Additional information on the laws and regulations is available at: http://www.ct.gov/dosr/site/default.asp
The law allows the following to conduct bingo in towns that have voted to approve bingo: educational, charitable, civic, fraternal, veterans', or religious organizations; volunteer fire departments; and granges (CGS § 7-169(d)).
With one exception, any organization promoting or conducting bingo must get a DSR permit, which determines the number of events, frequency, and prize limits. As a prerequisite, the organization must register with DSR and get a DSR identification number (CGS § 7-169a). It must have been organized for at least two years before applying for the permit. (An organization consisting of members over age 60 may conduct recreational bingo games without a permit (CGS § 7-169c)).
Only a sponsoring organization's qualified members may promote and operate bingo. But DSR may allow qualified members of other registered organizations to help (CGS § 7-169). The organization may award cash, merchandize, lottery tickets, or personal property as prizes. It must keep accurate records of receipts and disbursements available for DSR inspection, file financial returns with DSR, and pay DSR a regulation fee of 5% of the gross receipts, less prizes, from the bingo session.
Operating without a permit or in violation of the laws or regulations carries a penalty of up to $200, imprisonment of up to 60 days, or both (CGS § 7-169(k)(5)).
BAZAARS AND RAFFLES
The law allows the following to conduct, operate, or sponsor bazaars and raffles, provided they get a local permit, in any town that has adopted the Bazaars and Raffles Act: educational, veterans', religious, civic, fraternal, and charitable organizations; volunteer fire companies; political parties; and town committees. Designated centennial celebration committees may also promote and conduct town-sponsored raffles. CGS § 7-170 defines a bazaar as any place that a sponsoring organization maintains for disposing of merchandise awards by means of chance. DSR regulations allow sponsoring organizations to conduct the following games of chance at bazaars: knock-a-block games, dime pitches onto a flat surface, jar ticket games, straw games, lollipop games, duck pond games, fifty-fifty games, and other games DSR approves (Conn. Agencies Reg. 7-185-10b). By law, they may also conduct cow-chip, teacup, and duck race raffles (CGS § 7-185a).
To get the requisite permit, an organization (but not centennial committee) must have been organized in good faith and actively functioning as a nonprofit organization within the municipality that is to issue the permit for at least six months before applying. The permit determines raffle frequency, deadlines, and prize limits.
Only a sponsoring organization's qualified members may promote and operate bazaars and raffles (and they must work for free), and the organization must designate in its permit application three members who will be in charge. People under age 18 may not promote, conduct, or work at bazaars or raffles; and people under age 16 may not sell raffle tickets or promote ticket sales (CGS § 7-172).
By law, organizations may not promote bazaars or raffles on television, sound truck, or bill boards. But they may display one sign of up to 12 square feet on the premises where the drawing or prizes will be held or distributed (CGS § 7-179).
Organizations may award merchandise, tangible personal property, tickets (including lottery tickets), coupons, or gift certificates as prizes. They may not award alcohol, and, with minor exceptions for cow-chip raffles and fifty-fifty games, they may not award cash or anything redeemable for cash (CGS §§ 7-177 and 185a). After the events, organizations must submit financial reports either to DSR or the police chief of the town that issued the permit, depending on the type of permit.
Anyone who violates the bazaar and raffle laws or regulations or operates without the requisite permit is subject to a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both (CGS § 7-186).
Any organization wanting to sell sealed tickets must get a DSR permit. Sealed tickets are cards with tabs that, when pulled, reveal images, symbols, or numbers that entitle the holder to a prize if they match a designated winning combination.
By law, DSR may issue permits to any organization that holds a bingo, bazaar, club liquor, or nonprofit club permit. DSR may also issue permits to qualified organizations to sell sealed tickets in conjunction with social functions or events that they sponsor. For purposes of the social permit, a qualified organization is a charitable, civic, educational, fraternal, veterans', or religious organization; volunteer fire department; or grange.
DSR may impose a civil penalty of up to $200 for violations (CGS §7-169h(h)(3)).