An Educated Bet – More Options to Fundraise Through Games of Chance

Games of chance, namely bingo and raffles, are often a popular way for nonprofits to fundraise. However, this can come with some pitfalls, as we’ve blogged about before. However, the Secretary of State’s office has continued to develop useful tools and resources in this area to assist nonprofits. While this remains a highly regulated area, we are pleased to discuss these resources here  and add a reminder to become familiar with the rules, regulations and process before engaging in these activities.

Colorado Requirements

To recap, Colorado allows for certain games of chance like bingo and raffles to be conducted by nonprofits that are first licensed by the Secretary of State. In order to be licensed, nonprofit must meet certain requirements:

  • The nonprofit must be (i) a bona fide chartered branch, lodge, or chapter of a national or state organization; or (ii) a bona fide religious, charitable, labor, fraternal, educational, voluntary firefighters’, or veterans’ organization;
  • The nonprofit must be operating without profit to their members and have been in existence continuously for a period of five years before applying for a license;
  • The nonprofit must have had, during the entire five-year period, a dues-paying membership that has been carrying out the objects of the organization;
  •  The nonprofit must designate a games manager who is certified by the Secretary of State, and submit a roster of members who will assist in gaming activities.

An organization must renew its license annually, and also must meet additional requirements around prize amounts and raffle reporting. The Colorado Secretary of State has an online brochure for planning a raffle that includes more information on post-raffle procedures.

Easier Compliance

The Bingo-Raffles License Application is readily available online as a savable PDF, and the application FAQs  are very clear about what is to be submitted as supporting documentation with the application. The fees associated with new and renewal Bingo-Raffle licenses have reverted to prior levels, and the fee schedule should be consulted before the application is submitted. First-time applicants can avail themselves of consultation services offered by the Secretary of State’s office to review their application (and required materials) before it is submitted to help avoid errors and the delay resulting from having to resubmit missing documentation.  In addition, the Secretary of State’s office is working on electronic filing options for the application and for quarterly reports, so look for that down the line.

Online or Classroom Training?

Free online training is available for games managers – the personnel (or volunteers) at your organization who are ultimately responsible for conducting the games. The courses include training for certification as a Bingo, Raffles, and Pull-tab Games Manager, or a more streamlined Raffles-only Games Manager. If your organization prefers in-person instruction for certification, classroom training is also available for free. The training schedule is posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

New Games

The Colorado Secretary of State announced that, effective January 1, 2014, two new types of progressive raffles may be conducted in Colorado. The first is organized as a Playing-Card Progressive Raffle involving a jackpot prize card. The second is a Members-Only Progressive Raffle. These are different in that if a winner isn’t called, the jackpot may be added to the jackpot for the next (similar to a lottery jackpot, but with a prize ceiling). See for details.

At Leaffer Law, we will continue to monitor updates in charitable gaming regulations in Colorado, and will advise readers of these developments in future blog postings.

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