PA 17-231—HB 7070

General Law Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPALITIES AND BINGO GAMES, BAZAARS AND RAFFLES

SUMMARY: This act generally transfers the Department of Consumer Protection's (DCP) charitable gaming (e.g., bingo, bazaars, and raffles) investigation, oversight, and permitting functions to the municipality where the games are conducted. But DCP retains the (1) permitting and sales functions for sealed tickets and (2) regulatory authority over bingo product manufacturers and equipment dealers and raffle equipment dealers.

In transferring these powers, the act (1) allows the municipalities to set the permit fees, but caps the amount, and (2) eliminates the administrative hearing process for violations involving these games. It instead allows anyone aggrieved by an order to appeal to Superior Court.

Under prior law, DCP and the municipality shared certain regulatory oversight and permitting powers and permit fees for bazaars or raffles. Under the act, the municipality only needs to investigate the bazaar or raffle applicant's qualifications if the total aggregate prize exceeds $7,500.

The act also makes minor, technical, and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2018

CHARITABLE GAMING

The act generally transfers DCP's charitable gaming investigation, oversight, and permitting functions to the municipality where the games are conducted. The act eliminates the requirement that DCP adopt regulations on various matters related to charitable gaming.

In transferring DCP's functions to the municipality, the act specifies that the commissioner's responsibilities are given to the municipal official in the municipality where the games occur. A municipal official is the municipality's chief of police or, if there is no police department, the chief executive officer.

Elimination of Charitable Gaming Administrative Hearings ( 1(j) & 12)

The act eliminates the gaming administrative hearing process and instead allows anyone aggrieved by an order to appeal to the Superior Court where the municipality is located.

Prior law required the DCP commissioner, after an investigation, to send notice to the suspected violator of charitable gaming laws or regulations. The hearing had to occur at least (1) 30 days after the notice was mailed for bingo violations and (2) 14 days after the notice was mailed for bazaar or raffle violations. The commissioner had to conduct the hearing and appeal in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act.

Gaming Law Violations or False Statement Penalties ( 1(j) & 12)

Prior law allowed the DCP commissioner to suspend or revoke a permit or impose a civil penalty of up to $200 for violations of the charitable gaming laws or false statements made on any charitable gaming permit application or on any report the commissioner required. The act (1) transfers to the municipal official the authority to suspend and revoke a permit but not the authority to impose civil penalties and (2) allows the official to issue cease and desist orders for such violations or false statements.

BINGO

Inspection ( 1(g))

The act eliminates the requirement that receipt and disbursement information the DCP commissioner acquires from a bingo operator's records be available to the emergency services and public protection commissioner upon her request.

Revenue ( 1(i))

Under prior law, anyone who conducted bingo games had to pay DCP 5% of the gross receipts, minus the prizes awarded. The commissioner would then pay the municipality 0.25% of the total money wagered, less prizes awarded. Under the act, the municipality receives the entire 5%.

Registration and Permit Fees ( 1(f) & 5)

By law, organizations seeking to conduct bingo games generally must obtain a permit. Under certain conditions, parent teacher associations or organizations (PTOs) and senior organizations are exempt from the permit requirement, but must still register with DCP.

Under prior law, PTOs that wanted to conduct bingo games had to pay DCP an $80 registration fee, while qualified organizations subject to the permit requirement had to pay DCP the corresponding permit fee depending on the permit class. The act instead allows the municipality to charge up to (1) $75 for the PTO registration fee and (2) a certain amount for each permit for qualified organizations. Table 1 shows prior law's bingo fees and the amount the municipality may charge qualified organizations under the act.

Table 1: Bingo Permit Fees for Qualified Organizations

 

Prior Law

Under the Act

Type

Permit Fee

Municipality may charge up to:

Class A

$75

$75

Class B

5 per day

10 per day

Class C

50

50

BAZAARS OR RAFFLES

Application Form ( 7)

Prior law required any organization applying to operate a bazaar or raffle to apply to DCP on a form that included, among other things, the (1) applicant's name and address, (2) types of games intended to be held, (3) place where the games would be held, (4) types of prizes offered, and (5) purpose of the bazaar or raffle. The act eliminates these requirements and instead requires the municipal official to prescribe the application form, which must include a description of the bazaar or raffle.

Class 7 Permits and Investigation of Qualifications ( 8)

Under prior law, DCP solely issued permits and investigated the qualifications associated with class 7 permits. The act transfers the authority and fees associated with the class 7 permit from DCP to municipalities. For all permit classes, it requires the municipality to investigate the applicant's qualifications only if the total aggregate prize exceeds $7,500.

Permit Fees ( 9)

Table 2 shows (1) prior law's bazaar or raffle permit fees, including the amount that went to the state and municipality and (2) the maximum amount a municipality may charge for a permit under the act.

Table 2: Bazaar or Raffle Permit Fees

 

Prior Law

Under the Act

Type

Permit Fees

Municipality may charge up to:

Class 1

$25 to state

25 to municipality

$75

Class 2

10 to state

10 to municipality

30

Class 3

10 per day to state

10 per day to municipality

60 per day

Class 4

5 to municipality

Nothing to state

15

Class 5

40 to state

40 to municipality

120

Class 6

50 to state

50 to municipality

150

Class 7

100 to state

Nothing to municipality

300