Gambling Law US
Pennsylvania Bingo Law
Pennsylvania Charitable Bingo Law
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Current through Dec. 1, 2016
Section 301. Short title .
This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Bingo Law ."
Section 302. Legislative intent.
The General Assembly hereby declares that the playing of bingo for the purpose of raising funds, by certain nonprofit associations, for the promotion of charitable or civic purposes, is in the public interest.
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Legislature that all phases of licensing, operation and regulation of the game of bingo be strictly controlled, and that all laws and regulations with respect thereto as well as all gambling laws should be strictly construed and rigidly enforced.
The Legislature recognizes the possibility of association between commercial gambling and organized crime, and wishes to discourage commercialization of the game of bingo; prevent participation by organized crime and prevent the diversion of funds from the purposes herein authorized.
Section 303. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:
"Association." A volunteer fire company or an ambulance, religious, charitable, fraternal, veterans, civic, county fair or agricultural association, or any separately chartered auxiliary of any of the above associations, organized as a nonprofit organization which shall have existed, and conducted business in furtherance of their written constitution, charter, articles of incorporation or bylaw express purpose, for two years prior to application for a license: Provided, however, That an association whose membership consists exclusively of elderly residents of a senior citizen housing project may apply for a license immediately upon its being organized as such and need not meet the two-year waiting requirement. This term shall not be interpreted to include political organizations as associations eligible for a bingo license. An association shall not be denied a bingo license because its name denotes affiliation with a political organization if in fact the association is not a political organization as evidenced by its written constitution, charter, articles of incorporation or bylaw express purpose.
"Bingo." A game in which each player has a card or board containing five horizontal rows all but the central one containing five figures. The central row has four figures with the word "free" marked in the center thereof. Any preannounced combination of spaces when completed by a player constitutes bingo. In the absence of a preannouncement of a combination of spaces, any combination of five in a row whether horizontal or vertical when completed by a player constitutes bingo when its numbers are announced and covered. A wheel or other mechanical device may be used by any person conducting the game of bingo, and any such person may award a prize to any player or players first completing any combination constituting bingo.
"Bona fide member." Any individual who holds a full membership in the association as defined by the association's constitution, charter, articles of incorporation or bylaws and has been a member of the association for at least one year. The term shall also include those individuals who are members of an auxiliary or recognized junior affiliate of the parent association.
"Charitable purpose." Benevolent or philanthropic purpose.
"Civic purpose." Community purpose.
"Elderly residents of a senior citizen housing project." Persons aged 62 years or older who reside in an elderly housing project receiving rental assistance pursuant to the Federal Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.
"Equipment." Tables, chairs, cards, microphones, amplifiers, speakers and all other machinery and articles used to conduct a game of bingo.
"Law enforcement official." A municipal police officer, a member of the Pennsylvania State Police, the sheriff of a county or a deputy sheriff.
"Licensing authority." The county treasurer, or in any home rule county or city of the first class, where there is no elected treasurer, the designee of the governing authority.
Section 304. Associations permitted to conduct bingo.
Any association, for a charitable or civic purpose, when licensed pursuant to this act, may conduct the game of bingo as herein defined.
Section 305. Rules for licensing and operation.
(a) Issuance and fee.--The licensing authority shall license, upon application, any association as defined in section 3 [FN1] to conduct the game of bingo at one location in the county, which, when in a county of the second class, shall only be in the city, borough or township where the main business office or headquarters of the association is located. The county treasurer of a county of the second class shall indicate on each license the city, borough or township where the association may conduct bingo. The single municipal location limitation shall not apply to a group of licensed associations conducting bingo at a central location. The license fee to be charged to each nonprofit association shall be $100 per annum except to those recognized senior citizens' groups who conduct bingo for their members only the fee shall be $50 per annum. The license fee to be charged to each agricultural association or county fair shall be $100 per annum. Associations which conduct bingo only one period each year for not more than three consecutive days shall be charged $15 for the issuance of their license. The fees collected pursuant to this section shall be paid by the licensing authority into the general fund of the county and used for county purposes. All records retained by the licensing authority relating to the issuance of bingo licenses and bingo permits shall be public information.
(b) Display.--Licenses issued pursuant to this section shall be publicly displayed at games conducted by licensees.
(c) Operation.--Each licensed association shall comply with the following restrictions and rules governing the operation of bingo:
(d) Application for license.--Each association shall apply to the licensing authority for a license on a form to be prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Said form shall contain an affidavit to be affirmed by the executive officer or secretary of the association stating that:
(e) Limitation on compensation.--No person may be employed in the operation or the actual running of a bingo game for compensation greater than $50 per day, except employees of outside operators under section 5(c)(10), [FN2] and any person compensated shall be paid individually by check or by cash, in which case the payee shall sign a written receipt therefor. In addition, no person shall receive compensation from more than one source for services rendered in the operation of a bingo game.
(f) Investigation of association.--The licensing authority may request an investigation to verify the statements made in any application for a license.
Section 306. Revocation of licenses .
(a) Grounds.--The licensing authority shall revoke or refuse to renew the license of any association whenever the district attorney finds upon investigation that:
(1) Any of the funds derived from the operation of the game of bingo are used for any purpose which does not support the nonprofit purposes of the association.
(b) Production of records.--The district attorney may require the licensees to produce their books, accounts and records relating to the conduct of bingo in order to determine whether a license should be revoked or renewal thereof denied. Licensees shall also be required to produce their license, books, accounts and records relating to the conduct of bingo to other law enforcement officials upon proper request.
(c) Possible revocation.--The licensing authority may revoke the license of any association if he finds that the association has knowingly employed any person in the operation of their bingo game who has been convicted of a violation of this act.
Section 306.1. Special permits to conduct bingo for entertainment.
(a) Issuance and fee.--Upon application each year, the licensing authority may issue to community recognized nonprofit organizations a special permit to conduct bingo for entertainment purposes only. No fee shall be charged for the issuance of a special permit.
(b) Operation.--Organizations issued special permits shall not conduct bingo for the purpose of making a profit. All prizes awarded shall be of nominal value. No person who has been convicted of a felony or a violation of this act shall be permitted to manage, set up, supervise or participate in the operation of the bingo game.
(c) Application for permit.--Each organization shall apply to the licensing authority on a form to be prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Said form shall contain an affidavit to be affirmed by the executive officer or secretary of the organization stating that:
(d) Limitation on compensation.--No person shall be compensated for services rendered in the operation of bingo played for entertainment purposes pursuant to this section.
Section 306.2.Revocation of special permits.
(a) Grounds.--The licensing authority shall revoke or refuse to renew the special permit of any organization whenever the district attorney finds upon investigation that:
(1) The organization is conducting Bingo for purposes of making a profit.
(b) Possible revocation.--The licensing authority may revoke the special permit of any organization if it finds that the organization has knowingly employed any person in the operation of their bingo game who has been convicted of a violation of this act.
Section 306.3. Service of food or drink .
Section 307. Penalty.
(a) Summary offense.--Any association violating the provisions of this act shall be guilty of a summary offense, and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding $1,000 and shall forfeit any license issued to the association, and it shall be ineligible for a license renewal for 30 months thereafter.
(b) Misdemeanor.--Any person who conducts or assists in the conducting of bingo in violation of the provisions of this act, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. Any person who permits the conduct of bingo on the same premises, owned by him or leased to him, on more than five days in any one week or by more than one association in any calendar day, except for bingo being played at an exposition, carnival or fair, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Section 308. Additional powers of the district attorney.
Section 308.1. Enforcement powers of law enforcement officials not restricted.
Nothing in this act shall be interpreted to restrict the power of State, county or local law enforcement officials to conduct investigations and enforce the provisions of this act.
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