Virtual B-I-N-G…NO

Why Arizona nonprofits should avoid certain gambling-related fundraisers

As we are in our six month of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, many nonprofits are looking for creative ways to raise money. While they are looking at new fundraising avenues, they may be tempted to try approaches they have not used in the past. In addition, there are multiple outside organizations that are reaching out to charities to attempt to assist and persuade them to access previously untapped methods of fundraising. The one I want to address in this post is Bingo.

Bingo falls under the definition of gambling in the state of Arizona. Arizona statutes are very clear when it comes to gambling (A.R.S. 13-3302) – all gambling is illegal in Arizona unless a statute specifically excludes it as legal. In other words, you cannot operate any gambling activity unless there is a statute that specifically defines that activity as allowed and therefore legal. Promoting an illegal gambling activity is a class 5 felony under Arizona law (A.R.S 13-3303) and benefiting from illegal gambling is a class 1 misdemeanor (A.R.S. 13-3304).

The Arizona statutes that specifically allow Bingo and address how these games must be conducted are A.R.S. 5-401 through A.R.S. 5-415. Among many other things, these statutes provide the definition of bingo, the license requirements (you must have a license, even for amusement Bingo), the rules related to the equipment that must be used, the way the accounting/books and records need to be managed, who within the organization can monitor and participate in the supervision of the games, and most important to my purpose of this post, that the games must be live and in-person; virtual Bingo games are not allowed under any circumstances as they are not specifically made legal under the statutes. In fact, the statutes related to Bingo operations address this live and in-person requirement directly in A.R.S. 5-406-V – A person who is not physically present on the premises where the game is actually conducted shall not be allowed to participate as a player in the game.

If you are interested in reviewing the statutes related to Bingo and other gambling, these links might be useful to you:

Please reach out if you have any questions at all.