Nonprofit News

Winter 2016

Nonprofit News

10 Frequently Asked Questions About Bingo

November 17, 2016

Hundreds of charities use bingo to raise money for their organizations. We’ve outlined answers to some of their most common questions.

In Ohio, bingo is a regulated activity. Bingo requirements are outlined in Ohio Revised Code Section 2915 and in sections of the Ohio Administrative Code.

Frequently asked bingo questions include:

  1. Do I need a license to conduct bingo? Yes, in most cases, only a charitable organization that has obtained the proper license may conduct or advertise bingo. There are narrow exceptions in the law for senior centers and bingo for amusement only.
  2. Once I have a license to conduct bingo, where may I conduct it? Bingo licenses are issued for a specific location; therefore, bingo may only be conducted at the location listed in the organization’s approved bingo application.
  3. Can I give out cash as a door prize at bingo? Yes, as long as records of the door prize are maintained in accordance with the recordkeeping requirements of Ohio Revised Code Section 2915.10.
  4. Can an individual with a felony operate bingo or sell instant bingo tickets? No. Ohio law prohibits a person who has been convicted of a felony or a gambling offense in any jurisdiction from serving as a bingo game operator. (A bingo game operator is any person, except security personnel, who performs work or labor at the site of bingo.)
  5. Can an individual with a felony serve on the board of an organization that operates bingo? Nothing in Ohio Revised Code Chapters 109, 1702, 1716, or 2915 prohibits a person who has been convicted of a felony or gambling offense from serving on the board of a charitable organization that operates bingo. However, that person cannot serve as a bingo operator. Contact an attorney to determine whether other laws would prevent a felon from serving on your charity’s board.
  6. Can a customer use a debit or credit card to buy an instant bingo ticket? Ohio law does not prohibit a person from buying instant bingo tickets with a debit or credit card, but locations that sell bingo tickets are not required to accept debit or credit card payments.
  7. Can an organization’s bingo license be transferred to an affiliated organization? No. Bingo licenses are issued for the charitable organization and the specific locations listed in the organization's application.
  8. Can my organization amend the day or time our bingo is conducted? Yes. A charitable organization may apply to amend the day or time its bingo is conducted up to two times in each calendar year. The application must be submitted in writing to the Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section. A $250 amendment fee will apply.
  9. Our organization has a traditional (Type 1) bingo license. Can we pay our workers for operating bingo? No. All bingo workers at traditional bingo games must be volunteers. The only exception applies to security personnel, who are not bingo game operators by definition. (See Ohio Revised Code Section 2915.01(U) for the definition of security personnel.) An organization may pay the reasonable amount actually expended for audits and accounting services.
  10. Can bingo operators at an organization that conducts Type II bingo purchase instant bingo tickets while they are working? No. Ohio law prohibits volunteers and staff members from purchasing tickets while they are working in connection with a bingo game.

Learn more about these and other frequently asked questions and answers from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at

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