Gaming, sometimes referred to as gambling, is a tightly regulated industry in the United States. This fact of life seems at odds with the multitude of bingo games held regularly at churches or the local VFW hall. Most states, Florida included, have laid out regulations that allow organizations, primarily not-for-profit organizations (but others can as well under specific conditions), to hold public bingo games. They must adhere to a strict set of regulations.
The first area of concern addressed by Florida state regulations is that only charitable, non-profit or veterans' organizations may hold bingo games and should do so either directly on the premises or within 15 miles of their organization's location.
The state recognizes that such organizations use bingo to raise money for good causes and the regulations specifically state they are not trying to regulate bingo out of existence, but rather make sure it does not turn into a profitable enterprise for the organization holding the games.
To insure this, Florida requires all proceeds from bingo games, minus actual operating expenses, to be donated for charitable, civic, community, benevolent, religious, scholastic or other similar works to benefit the community. Money collected but not designated for the aforementioned functions must be paid back to bingo players in the form of prizes.
No single bingo game can offer a jackpot prize of more than $250 and there can be no more than three jackpots awarded on any single day of play. Bingo games cannot be held by an organization more than twice weekly. Any person involved in running the bingo game should be not only a resident of the local community but also a member of the organization offering the event. For obvious conflict of interest concerns, the bingo caller cannot participate in the game. The organization holding the event is allowed to refuse entry to anyone they find objectionable and may not allow anyone under the age of 18 to play.
Florida state bingo regulations describe how actual game play should be conducted. All items marked with letters and numbers for play and drawn to be called should resemble one another in size, shape, weight, and color. Numbers should be visibly displayed to players as well as called aloud. Once a winner has been found, the caller will ask “Are there any other winners?” If not, he shall declare the game closed and the prize goes to the designated player. Bingo cards should be of similar size and shape.
Florida law allows the same organizations to sell instant bingo tickets but limits the sale price to what is printed on the face of the ticket and not to exceed one dollar. Instant bingo tickets cannot be sold in group discounts or given away. When engaging in instant bingo ticket sales to a non-profit organization, good record keeping is a must for the manufacturer, who should include an invoice that details date of sale, serial number of deals sold, number of tickets sold, price paid and the name of the organization making the purchase.