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Bingo and Small Games of Chance

​Small Games of Chance

The Pennsylvania Crimes Code provides that all forms of gambling are illegal in the Commonwealth unless the Pennsylvania Legislature has given authorization for a particular type of activity.  Gambling consists of the following three elements: 1) the payment of consideration or a fee; 2) for the chance to win a prize; 3) the winner is determined by chance.  If these three elements are present, the activity is “gambling” and therefore illegal unless sanctioned by the Legislature.

Currently, the authorized and therefore legal forms of gambling in Pennsylvania are:

  • Horse Racing (Race Horse Industry Reform Act, 4 P.S. §325)
  • Pennsylvania Lottery
  • Bingo (Bingo Law, 10 P.S. §303)
  • Local Option Small Games of Chance (10 P.S. §311-327)
  • Slot machines (Pennsylvania Race Horse Development & Gaming Act, 4 P.S. §1101)  

The Pennsylvania legislature first adopted the Local Option Small Games of Chance in 1988.  The Act allows certain non-profit organizations to conduct small games of chance for the purpose of raising funds for the promotion of public interest purposes.

The current (recently enacted) law is very specific regarding the games of chance that are allowed.  Notice that the word “small” has been omitted.

An eligible licensed organization may conduct only the five (5) types of games of chance as follows:

  • Punchboard
  • Pull-tabs
  • Raffles
  • Daily Drawings
  • Weekly Drawings

House Bill 169 was signed into law on February 2, 2012 by Governor Corbett and became effective in 60 days.  The 37 page law indicated a legislative intent that proceeds from games of chance may be utilized for some operating expenses instead of only for promotion of charitable or civic purposes.

The Mifflin County District Attorney is charged with investigation of alleged violations of the law.  In addition, nothing in the law limits the power of the state, county or local law enforcement officers to conduct investigations and file criminal charges.

SEE SGOC OVERVIEW
www.revenue.state.pa.us/SGOC

Bingo Law

The Pennsylvania Bingo Law was passed in 1981.  That law allows certain nonprofit “associations” to conduct bingo for the purpose of raising funds for charitable and civic purposes.

A bingo license cannot be granted to an individual, but only to an “association” as defined in the Bingo Law.  Section 303 of the law provides a rather extensive definition including volunteer fire companies, religious, charitable, fraternal, veteran or civic associations that have been in existence for two years prior to the application of the bingo license.

Licenses are obtained at the Mifflin County Treasurer’s Office at a fee of $100.00, and are valid for one year from the date of issue.  These are, in addition to the regular license, three (3) day licenses, county fair licenses and special permits in the statute.

The Mifflin County District Attorney’s Office is charged with investigating violations of the Bingo Law.  In addition, any state, county or local law enforcement official is empowered to investigate violations.

SEE ALSO: Bingo Law: 10 P.S. §301-308.1

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