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Florida Charitable Gaming

Bingo was first authorized in 1967 by the Florida Legislature, allowing charitable, nonprofit and veterans organizations engaged in a civic, charitable, benevolent, religious, scholastic or similar activity a way to raise funds for their charitable causes. The state of Florida does not have statutory provisions for statewide enforcement of bingo. Local law enforcement agencies, typically at the county level, regulate and enforce the operation of charitable bingo within their own district. Several counties have passed bingo ordinances to deal with issues regarding the game.

Charitable organizations must be designated as exempt from federal income taxes under either sections 501(c) or 528 of the Internal Revenue Code. Florida law also allows condominium, cooperative and other homeowners associations, including members of a mobile home owners' association or residents of a mobile home park, to conduct bingo games. These organizations must have been in existence for at least three years before they can operate a bingo game under narrowly prescribed parameters.

To thwart possible corruption and misdirected funds, a charitable organization must be directly involved in the operations of the game and cannot serve as a mere figurehead. The location where bingo games are held must be owned or leased by the authorized organization and located within a 15-mile radius of the organization's premises.

According to 2004 Florida statute, bingo can only be hosted two days a week, with only three jackpots a day. The jackpot limit cannot exceed a value of $250, and other game prizes cannot be more than $50. Any person involved in running the bingo game must be a resident of the local community and a member of the organization. Anyone under the age of 18 is restricted from playing bingo.

In July 2007, state law 849.0931, Florida, allowing instant bingo, also known informally as pull-tabs, took effect. The law was seen as a way to help the state's struggling bingo halls and to provide more money for charitable organizations. Critics of the law said there was no regulatory oversight to ensure the money went to the nonprofit cause.

In 2009, SB 1326 authorized the dispensing of instant bingo tickets by electronic devices. The bill required that the electronic device be capable of recording each ticket dispensed, the number of coins or amount of money received for each ticket, and totals of each for all tickets dispensed. The bill provided regulations to prevent underage persons from purchasing tickets. The bill further provided that the machines may dispense change but may not be used in any manner other than for dispensing instant bingo tickets. This bill amended section 2007 849.0931, Florida statute.
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