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Wisconsin Charitable Gaming

In 1973, it became legal for charitable organizations offer games of chance for fundraising purposes. Currently, only three types of charitable gaming are legal raffles, duck race raffles and bingo.

The Division of Gaming's Office of Charitable Gaming (OCG) is responsible for the licensing and regulation of bingo and raffles conducted by charitable organizations. The OCG also inspects bingo events and audits charitable organizations conducting bingo and raffles.

A charitable organization, for purposes of charitable gaming, is any religious, service, fraternal or veterans organization; a community-based residential facility; a senior community center; or an adult family home in existence for at least three years. The organization also must be incorporated or organized as a nonprofit with the state for one year. Net proceeds from charitable gaming are mandated to be distributed for charitable purposes only and not for the gain of the organization or its members.

Applicants must submit to the OCG a license fee of $10 for each bingo event and an annual license fee of $5. Organizations must specify all bingo events to be conducted on the application. A bingo license is valid for one year from the first day of the month of the first occasion listed on the license and may be renewed annually. Each year, organizations must also pay an occupational tax of 1% on the first $30,000 of annual bingo gross receipts and 2% on bingo gross receipts above $30,000. Organizations conducting bingo are required to have a seller's permit, issued by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, to collect sales tax from the players.

There are two types of raffles licensed by the OCG: a Class A raffle license, where tickets are sold in advance of the raffle drawing; and a Class B raffle license, where all tickets for a raffle are sold on the same day as the raffle drawing. The license fee for both license types is $25. Both licenses allow for up to 200 raffle drawings to be held in one year. However, for a Class A license, a raffle ticket may not exceed $100 and the ticket buyer is not required to be present at the drawing to win a prize; Class B raffle tickets may not exceed $10 and the raffle ticket purchaser must be present at the drawing to win a prize.

Duck races are considered raffles. The person holding the number of the rubber duck that crosses the finish line first wins the prize.

On 13 April 2006, significant changes to the Bingo Laws were enacted. All bingo played on regular bingo (hard) cards or special bingo cards (disposable paper sheets) were licensed together as an Unlimited Bingo Occasion. This change affected the majority of bingo games conducted in the state. Limited Period Bingo includes games played at carnivals, festivals and the like, where the games are played once a year and not for more than four of five consecutive days. The method of play did not change: Hard (regular) cards still require players to pay an admission fee, while events using only paper (special) cards do not, and a player wanting to play just special games during a hard card occasion cannot be charged an admission fee. The limit for a single game prize was raised from $250 to $500, and for an entire bingo event was increased from $1,000 to $2,500. The maximum charge for any type of bingo card was $1.

There was also a new bingo game created – Progressive Jackpot Bingo – that allowed a prize to roll over from one day to the next day bingo is conducted. Progressive Jackpot Bingo was not legal in Wisconsin before April 2006. The game was approved to offer players a large jackpot possibility that would increase licensee earnings. Progressive Jackpot Bingo may be played just once each day and must be played at each successive bingo occasion until a player wins the progressive jackpot. There were no special licensing requirements added for an organization to be able to conduct Progressive Jackpot Bingo.
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