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Current through Sep. 1, 2014

16-12-50. Legislative intent

It is the intention of the General Assembly that, except for recreational bingo, only nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations which are properly licensed pursuant to this part shall be allowed to operate bingo games.

16-12-51.  Definitions

As used in this part, the term:

   (1) "Bingo game" or "nonprofit bingo game " means a game of chance played on cards with numbered squares in which counters or indicators are placed on numbers chosen by lot and won by covering a previously specified number or order of numbered squares. A bingo game may be played manually or with an electronic or computer device that stores the numbers from a player's card or cards, tracks the numbers chosen by lot when such numbers are entered by the player, and notifies the player of a winning combination. Such words, terms, or phrases, as used in this paragraph, shall be strictly construed to include only the series of acts generally defined as bingo and shall exclude all other activity.

   (2) "Bingo session " means a time period during which bingo games are played.

   (3) "Director " means the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

   (3.1) "Nonprofit, tax-exempt organization " means an organization, association, corporation, or other legal entity which has been determined by the federal Internal Revenue Service to be exempt from taxation under federal tax law and has been determined by the Georgia Department of Revenue to be exempt from taxation under the tax laws of this state; which is organized or incorporated in this state or authorized to do business in this state; and which uses the proceeds from any bingo games conducted by such organization solely within this state.

   (4) "Operate," "operated," or "operating " means the direction, supervision, management, operation, control, or guidance of activity.

   (5) "Recreational bingo " means a bingo session operated by any person or entity at no charge to participants in which the prizes for each bingo game during the bingo session shall be noncash prizes and the total of such prizes for each such game shall not exceed the amount established pursuant to regulations established by the director. No such noncash prize awarded in recreational bingo shall be exchanged or redeemed for money or for any other prize with a value in excess of the amount established pursuant to regulations established by the director. Recreational bingo shall also include a bingo session operated by a nonprofit, tax-exempt licensed operator of bingo games at no charge to participants in which the participants are senior citizens attending a function at a facility of the tax-exempt licensed organization or are residents of nursing homes, retirement homes, senior centers, or hospitals and in which the prizes for each bingo game during the bingo session shall be nominal cash prizes not to exceed $5.00 for any single prize and the total of such prizes for each such game shall not exceed the amount established pursuant to regulations established by the director. Recreational bingo shall also include a bingo session operated by an employer with ten or more full-time employees for the purposes of providing a safe workplace incentive and in which the prizes are determined by the employer; provided, however, that no monetary consideration is required by any participant other than the employer and the employer expressly prohibits any monetary consideration from any employee. Recreational bingo shall not be considered a lottery as defined in paragraph (4) of Code Section 16-12-20 or a form of gambling as defined in Code Section 16-12-21.

16-12-52.  License required to operate bingo game; recreational bingo exception

(a) Any other law to the contrary notwithstanding except for subsection (b) of this Code section, no nonprofit, tax-exempt organization shall be permitted to operate a bingo game until the director issues a license to the organization authorizing it to do so. In the event of any controversy concerning whether or not certain activity constitutes bingo for which a license may be issued, the decision of the director shall control. The license described in this Code section is in addition to and not in lieu of any other licenses which may be required by this state or any political subdivision thereof, and no bingo game shall be operated until such time as all requisite licenses have been obtained.

(b) Recreational bingo is a nonprofit bingo game or a bingo game operated by an employer with ten or more full-time employees for the purpose of providing a safe workplace incentive and shall not be subject to the licensing requirements and regulations provided in this part applicable to bingo games not considered recreational bingo and operated by nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations.

16-12-53.  Licensing procedure; fee; renewal

(a) Any nonprofit, tax-exempt organization desiring to obtain a license to operate bingo games shall make application to the director on forms prescribed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and shall pay an annual fee of $100.00. No license shall be issued to any nonprofit, tax-exempt organization unless the organization has been in existence for 12 months immediately prior to the issuance of the license. The license will expire at 12:00 Midnight on December 31 following the granting of the license. Renewal applications for each calendar year shall be filed with the director prior to January 1 of each year and shall be on a form prescribed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

(b) Each application for a license and each application for renewal of a license shall contain the following information:

(1) The name and home address of the applicant and, if the applicant is a corporation, association, or other similar legal entity, the names and home addresses of each of the officers of the organization as well as the names and addresses of the directors, or other persons similarly situated, of the organization;

(2) The names and home addresses of each of the persons who will be operating, advertising, or promoting the bingo game;

(3) The names and home addresses of any persons, organizations, or other legal entities that will act as surety for the applicant or to which the applicant is financially indebted or to which any financial obligation is owed by the applicant;

(4) A determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service certifying that the applicant is an organization exempt under federal tax law;

5) A statement affirming that the applicant is exempt under the income tax laws of this state under Code Section 48-7-25;

(6) The location at which the applicant will conduct the bingo games and, if the premises on which the games are to be conducted is to be leased, a copy of the lease or rental agreement;

(7) A statement showing the convictions, if any, for criminal offenses other than minor traffic offenses of each of the persons listed in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of this subsection; and

(8) Any other necessary and reasonable information which the director may require.

(c) The director shall refuse to grant a bingo license to any applicant who fails to provide fully the information required by this Code section.

(d) When a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization which operates or intends to operate bingo games for residents and patients of a retirement home, nursing home, or hospital operated by that organization at which gross receipts are or will be limited to $100.00 or less during each bingo session and pays or will pay prizes having a value of $100.00 or less during each bingo session, then, notwithstanding any other provision of this part or any rule or regulation promulgated by the director pursuant to the provisions of Code Section 16-12-61, neither the applicant nor any of the persons whose names and addresses are required under paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (b) of this Code section shall be required to submit or provide fingerprints or photographs as a condition of being granted a license.

(e) If the director determines that an organization has one or more auxiliaries, the members of any such auxiliary may assist in such organization's bingo operations, even if such auxiliary holds a license under this part, and the members of the main organization may assist in the bingo operations of any such licensed auxiliary.

16-12-54.  Revocation of licenses; access to premises by law enforcement agencies

(a) The director shall have the specific authority to suspend or revoke any license for any violation of this part or for any violation of any rule or regulation promulgated under this part. Any licensee accused of violating any provision of this part or of any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder shall be entitled, unless waived, to a hearing on the matter of the alleged violation conducted in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act."

(b) By making application for a license under this part, every applicant consents that the director, as well as any of his agents, together with any prosecuting attorney, as well as any of his agents, may come upon the premises of any licensee or upon any premises on which any licensee is conducting a bingo game for the purpose of examining the accounts and records of the licensee to determine if a violation of this part has occurred.

16-12-55.  Certification of tax-exempt status of organization; issuance of certificate of licensure; evidentiary nature of certificate
The director shall upon the request of any prosecuting attorney or his designee certify the status of any organization as to that organization's exemption from payment of state income taxes as a nonprofit organization. The director shall also upon request issue a certificate indicating whether any particular organization holds a currently valid license to operate a bingo game. Such certificates properly executed shall be admissible in evidence in any prosecution and Code Section 48-7-60, relative to the disclosure of income tax information, shall not apply to the furnishing of such certificate.

16-12-56.  Issuance of annual one-day license to nonprofit, tax-exempt school; application

Notwithstanding the other provisions of this part, the director upon receiving written application therefor shall be authorized to issue a one-time license to a nonprofit, tax-exempt school which will allow it to operate a bingo game one day annually. In such cases, the director shall have the power to waive the license fee provided for in Code Section 16-12-53, to waive the annual report provided for in Code Section 16-12-59, and otherwise promulgate rules and regulations to carry out this Code section.

16-12-57.  Restrictions as to ownership of premises utilized

 Bingo games shall be operated only on premises owned by the nonprofit, tax-exempt organization operating the bingo game, on property leased by the nonprofit, tax-exempt organization and used regularly by that organization for purposes other than the operation of a bingo game, or on property leased by the nonprofit, tax-exempt organization operating the bingo game from another nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.

16-12-58.  Age restrictions

No person under the age of 18 years shall be permitted to play any game or games of bingo conducted pursuant to any license issued under this part unless accompanied by an adult. No person under the age of 18 years shall be permitted to conduct or assist in the conducting of any game of bingo conducted pursuant to any license issued under this part.

16-12-59.  Annual report to be filed with the director

On or before April 15 of each year, every nonprofit, tax-exempt organization engaged in operating bingo games shall file with the director a report disclosing all receipts and expenditures relating to the operation of bingo games in the previous year. The report shall be in addition to all other reports required by law. The report shall be prepared and signed by a certified public accountant competent to prepare such a report and shall be deemed a public record subject to public inspection.

16-12-60.  Rules and regulations

(a) A licensee that conducts or operates a bingo session shall maintain the following records for at least three years from the date on which the bingo session is conducted:

   (1) An itemized list of the gross receipts for each session;

   (2) An itemized list of all expenses other than prizes that are incurred in the conducting of the bingo session as well as the name of each person to whom the expenses are paid and a receipt for all of the expenses;

   (3) A list of all prizes awarded during the bingo session and the name and address of all persons who are winners of prizes of $50.00 or more in value;

   (4) An itemized list of the recipients other than the licensee of the proceeds of the bingo game, including the name and address of each recipient to whom such funds are distributed; and

   (5) A record of the number of persons who participate in any bingo session conducted by the licensee.

(b) A licensee shall:

   (1) Own all the equipment used to conduct a bingo game or lease such equipment;

   (2) Display its bingo license conspicuously at the location where the bingo game is conducted;

   (3) Conduct bingo games only at the single location specified in the licensee's application; and

   (4) Not conduct more than one bingo session during any one calendar day, which session shall not exceed five hours.

(c) No nonprofit, tax-exempt organization shall enter into any contract with any individual, firm, association, or corporation to have such individual, firm, association, or corporation operate bingo games or concessions on behalf of the nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.

(d) A nonprofit, tax-exempt organization shall not lend its name nor allow its identity to be used by any individual, firm, association, or corporation in the operating or advertising of a bingo game in which said nonprofit, tax-exempt organization is not directly and solely operating the bingo game.

(e) It shall be unlawful for two or more nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations which are properly licensed pursuant to this part to operate bingo games jointly or to operate bingo games upon the same premises during any 18 hour period.

(f) It shall be unlawful to award prizes in excess of $1,500.00 in cash or gifts of equivalent value during any calendar day or $3,000.00 in cash or gifts of equivalent value during any calendar week. It shall be unlawful to exceed such limits at any combination of locations operated by a single licensee or such licensee's agents or employees. It shall be unlawful for two or more licensees to pyramid the valuation of prizes in such manner as to exceed the limits contained in this Code section. The term "equivalent value" shall mean the fair market value of the gift on the date the gift is given as the prize in a bingo game.

(g) No person or organization by whatever name or composition thereof shall take any salary, expense money, or fees for the operation of any bingo game, except that not more than $30.00 per day may be paid to one or more individuals for assisting in the conduct of such games on such day.

(h) No person shall pay consulting fees to any person for any services performed in relation to the operation or conduct of a bingo game.

(i) A person who is a member of more than one nonprofit, tax-exempt organization shall be permitted to participate in the bingo operations of only two organizations of which such person is a member; provided, however, that such person shall not receive more than $30.00 per day for assisting in the conduct of bingo games regardless of whether such person assists both organizations in the same day.

16-12-61.  Promulgation of necessary rules and regulations by director authorized

The director is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations which he deems necessary for the proper administration and enforcement of this part.

16-12-62.  Penalties

Any person who operates a bingo game for which a license is required without a valid license issued by the director as provided in this part commits the offense of commercial gambling as defined in Code Section 16-12-22 and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished accordingly. Any person who knowingly aids, abets, or otherwise assists in the operation of a bingo game for which a license is required and has not been obtained as provided in this part similarly commits the offense of commercial gambling. Any person who violates any other provision of this part, including the provisions relating to recreational bingo, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. Any person who commits any such violation after having previously been convicted of any violations of this part shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years or by a fine not to exceed $10,000.00, or both.