BINGO - -
ALL FUN AND NO PROFIT
Thousands of people throughout the State of Florida love to play bingo. Unfortunately, unless bingo is conducted in a very specific way, it is considered gambling, and gambling is illegal. Fortunately, Section 849.0931, Florida Statutes, permits condominium, cooperative and homeowners’ associations (and other similar organizations) to conduct bingo games so long as they strictly follow the standards outlined therein. Some of the more important standards are as follows:
MUST BE A 'REAL' ASSOCIATION:
The operator of the games must be either a Condominium Association as defined by Chapter 718, a Cooperative Association as defined by Chapter 719 or a Homeowners’ Association as defined by Chapter 720. This means that voluntary homeowners’ associations are not protected by this law.
PROFITS ARE NOT PERMITTED:
The money an Association receives from the bingo games must be returned to the players in the form of prizes. The Association can, however, deduct its actual business expenses for such games prior to paying out the prizes.
If an Association finds that it has money left over after deducting its actual business expenses and paying out prizes to the players, the Association has the following two (2) options:
1. The net proceeds remaining may be donated by the Association to a charitable, nonprofit, or veterans’ organization; or
2. The Association must conduct the next scheduled bingo without any charge to the players and continue to do so until the net proceeds carried over from previous bingo games have been exhausted.
LOCATION OF THE GAMES:
Bingo games may only be held on property owned by the Association or on the common areas of a Condominium.
There are numerous other general conditions that must be met. Some of the more important of these are:
1. For each day that bingo games are played, there can only be three (3) jackpots and no jackpot can exceed $250.00. The other game prizes cannot exceed $50.00.
2. The Association may not conduct bingo games more often than two (2) days per week.
3. All persons involved in conducting/organizing any bingo game must be residents of the community and must be members of the Association. Further, none of these persons may be compensated in any way for the operation of such bingo games.
4. The Association must post a notice which states the name of the Association and the members involved in organizing the bingo game in a conspicuous place on the premises where the bingo game is held.
5. No one under the age of eighteen (18) may be permitted to play any bingo game or be involved in the organization of a bingo game in any way.
OTHER TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS:
In addition to the above-listed provisions, Section 849.0931(12) provides a list of technical requirements that only a bingo player would understand. Examples of these are:
1. Weight, shape, size, and balance requirements for the objects that are drawn or ejected (e.g bingo balls);
2. The need to verify equipment and objects before each game;
3. The establishment of standards relating to the bingo cards; and
4. Establishing the manner of declaring a winner.
PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING THE STATUTE:
Section 849.0931 is a criminal statute and it provides that any willful or knowing violation thereof is a first degree misdemeanor. Therefore, it is imperative that you read and fully understand all of the statutory requirements prior to embarking on this endeavor.