For the first time in Ohio history, members and guests of veteran and fraternal organizations throughout the state can use electronic instant bingo machines to generate funds to support community charities.
The Ohio General Assembly approved this modernization of instant bingo for these organizations in June 2021, with an official launch date of April 1, 2022. The addition of machine-based instant bingo games required the Charitable Law Section to develop administrative rules to guide the implementation of this new format for instant bingo. The Joint Committee of Agency Rule Review approved rules that addressed licensing and reporting issues for organizations seeking machines in their facilities, and for manufacturers and distributors seeking to provide the machines.
Ohio 501(c)(3) organizations – as well as qualifying veteran, fraternal and sporting organizations – must apply to the Charitable Law Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for a license that covers traditional live bingo games which has historically been restricted to paper tickets. The licenses must be renewed annually. Because there are numerous record-keeping requirements that apply to bingo activities, the office provides ongoing training and technical support to bingo licensees to ensure that adequate financial controls are in place to protect proceeds, which should be used to support charitable work in the community.
By the April 1 launch of e-bingo, the Charitable Law Section had granted e-bingo licenses to 629 organizations, five distributors and four manufacturers. Organizations continue to apply, but they must be licensed prior to use of the machines.
The General Assembly’s provisions on electronic instant bingo apply only to veteran and fraternal organizations. The General Assembly also required that manufacturers and distributors provide machines that have been forensically tested and approved by certified testing labs to ensure the games are fair, safe and incapable of being tampered with. The new regulatory system also requires the machine operators to provide ongoing reporting to create a paper trail, ensuring appropriate accounting of the funds used in the machines.
For additional information about obtaining a bingo license, visit bingo sections on the Charitable Law Section’s web page at Charitable.OhioAGO.gov
, or email CharitableBingo@OhioAGO.gov