Charitable Gambling Registration Program
On January 1, 2007, a new California law Business and Professions Code sections 19985-19987 passed allowing eligible nonprofit organizations to hold "charity poker night" fundraisers. Nonprofit organizations and suppliers of equipment and/or services for such fundraising events must submit an annual registration form to the Bureau of Gambling Control for approval.
Controlled games which are an approved funding mechanism for these fundraisers are specified in the California Penal Code section 337j(e)(1) as "any poker or pai gow game, and any other game played with cards or tiles, or both, and approved by the Department of Justice, and any game of chance, including any gaming device, played for currency, check, credit, or any other thing of value that is not prohibited and made unlawful by statute or local ordinance."
For a list of controlled games approved by the Department of Justice, please see the BGC Standard Game List.
Nonprofit organizations must register with the Bureau to host one event per calendar year. In addition to nonprofit organizations, businesses that supply controlled gaming equipment and/or services for fundraising events are also required to register annually.
No one under the age of 21 is allowed to participate at these fundraising events.
All registration forms should be sent at least 30 days prior to an event date. Processing time varies but can take up to 30 days. If a registered fundraiser needs to be rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances, the original registration certificate must be returned to the Bureau and should be post marked prior to the original fundraiser date. The original approval must also be accompanied by a letter of request to reschedule the fundraiser; the letter should indicate all changes being made and must be signed by the same person who signed the registration form. A new registration form and fee are not required for rescheduled fundraisers as long as it is rescheduled for the same calendar year as the original approval.
The new law does not allow the use of slot machines or Internet gaming for fundraising purposes. Other fundraising restrictions apply to charity bingo and raffle events. The Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Section regulates raffles (Raffles - Charitable Trusts - California Dept. of Justice - Office of the Attorney General). Nonprofit organizations must also register with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts and file annual financial disclosure reports. To help charities stay within State laws, the Attorney General makes available various guides and publications, including the (Attorney General’s Guide for Charities, pdf). Please contact your local city, sheriff, or police department for inquiries regarding bingo.
The Bureau monitors and tracks all applications received by the Charitable Gambling Program.
*Both charts provided on this page reflect information collected for 2010 calendar year registration. This does not include applications received during the 2010 calendar year for organizations applying for registration for the 2011 calendar year.
Based on the research of both nonprofit organizations and gambling equipment/service suppliers, the total number of requests to hold fundraisers using controlled games during the 2010 calendar year was 677 and the total number of requests to supply gambling equipment/services at fundraisers using controlled games during the 2010 calendar year was 130.
For more information on the Charitable Gambling Registration Program, contact the Bureau at BGCCharitableGambling@doj.ca.gov