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Idaho Charitable Gaming

In 1992, the Idaho Lottery was given oversight responsibility for all charitable gaming in the state. Only bingo, raffles and duck races conducted by charitable, nonprofit organizations are legal in Idaho. All other gaming activities, such as instant bingo, poker runs, Calcuttas and casino nights, are prohibited. There are more than 400 charitable and nonprofit organizations licensed to conduct charitable gaming.

The Idaho Lottery is responsible for regulating and licensing charitable gaming organizations and businesses connected with the operation of charity games, such as manufacturers, vendors and distributors of gaming equipment. The Lottery must also ensure that charitable organizations' net proceeds are distributed as legally intended. Currently for bingo licensees, at least 20% of gross revenues must be used for charitable purposes and, at most, 18% of the gross revenues may be used for administrative expenses in conducting bingo games. And for raffle licensees, at least 80% of a raffle's net proceeds must be used by the charitable or nonprofit organization for charitable purposes. Funds raised by licensed organizations benefit communities throughout the state in many capacities, including conservation research on the Island Park Dam, helping a food bank in Payette, and providing leadership skills in the state's agribusiness.

In addition to the lottery, a state bingo-raffle board advises the Lottery in matters regarding bingo and raffle operations in the state. The board comprises six members appointed by the governor. Members must be Idaho residents over 25 years of age who have experience in administrating, conducting or regulating bingo or raffle games. Each of the six members is assigned to one of the six districts in Idaho and serves for a three-year term.

A charitable organization is defined as an organization that should be exempt from federal taxation under section 501(c) or (d) of the Internal Revenue Code and from state income taxation, and has been operating in the county where the charitable bingo game or raffle is located for at least one year. The organization also must conduct charitable activities as a nonprofit charitable, civic, religious, fraternal, patriotic or veterans organization or as a volunteer fire department, rescue squad or educational booster group or parent-teacher organization.

Only charitable or nonprofit organizations with annual bingo gross revenues that exceed $10,000 or a raffle prize value of $5,000 are required to apply for a license from the Lottery. License fees are based on the amount of charitable gaming gross revenues for the organization from the previous year. Those organizations with gross revenues of less than $25,000 must pay a $100 license fee; with gross revenues between $25,000 to $75,000, a $200 license fee; and over $75,000, a $300 license fee. First-time organizations pay $100 for their license, and subsequent renewals are based on their gross revenues for the previous year.

Licensed organizations are restricted to operating bingo games at no more than three (eight-hour) sessions per week, Sunday through Saturday. The maximum prize allowed for any one bingo game is $1,000, and the maximum aggregate amount of prizes that may be offered for any one bingo session is limited to $25,000.

Raffles are limited to 12 events per year, except for elementary or secondary schools located in the state. The maximum allowable cash prize for one raffle is $1,000; however, if a prize is offered as merchandise and is not redeemable for cash, there is no limit on the value of the merchandise. One event may include more than one raffle drawing. For duck races, there is no limit on the maximum allowable cash prize if the cash prize is underwritten by insurance. If the cash prize is not underwritten by insurance, the maximum value of the cash prize is $1,000 and if merchandise is offered as a prize that is not redeemable for cash, a limit on the merchandise prize value is not imposed.
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