North Carolina state law allows the operation of bingo games only by qualified charitable and nonprofit organizations. These bingo games must comply with several restrictions in the state's bingo law. These restrictions include licensing, location, prizes, hours, revenue and personnel. Bingo games that do not comply with the law are considered illegal gambling operations.
Only certain organizations are allowed to sponsor and/or conduct bingo games. The organization must be a nonprofit charitable, civic, religious, fraternal, patriotic or veterans' organization; or a volunteer fire or ambulance organization; or a homeowners/property owners association. Such an organization must also have been in operation for at least one year in the county where the bingo games will be held and be certified as tax exempt per the Internal Revenue Code. The organization must get a license from the state to hold bingo games on a regular basis.
The licensed organization can only hold bingo games on property that it directly owns or leases. The premises must be a building of a permanent nature and attached to the land. The premises must also be used on a regular basis by the organization for purposes other than the bingo games. If the premises is leased, the lease must be for at least one year and the monthly rent can be no more 1 1/4 percent of the property's assessed valuation.
Sessions and Prizes
Licensed organizations are restricted to conducting bingo games no more than two times per week. Each session of bingo is limited to five hours in length and sessions must be at least 48 hours apart. Prizes are limited to $500 for a single game of bingo, with the total of prizes being limited to $1,500 per session. The total per session can be $2,500 if there is only one such session per week. The amount of cash awarded and the value of any merchandise awarded are included in these prize limits.
All revenue from the bingo games must be kept in a special, separate bank account by the organization. Legitimate expenses for the bingo operations can be paid from this account. All money left after these expense payments must be used by the licensed organization for charitable or community purposes. This special account is required to be formally audited every year. Only members of the organization are permitted to manage and operate the bingo games, with only one such member allowed to be paid. All the bingo equipment must be owned and controlled by the organization.
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