Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Don't gamble with your c3 status

Most of us involved with charitable organizations in California know that raffles and bingo nights are legal (though governed by extensive rules and conditions). I also know that many charities think they can legally hold a "casino night" or poker tournament. Not so unfortunately.

The following caution from the Attorney General's website says it best:

"While eligible tax-exempt organizations registered with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts may conduct fundraising raffles, charities and anyone other than a licensed gaming establishment are not allowed to offer poker tournaments, “Monte Carlo” or “Casino Night” events, or casino games such as craps or roulette. It is the Attorney General’s view that anyone other than a licensed gaming establishment holding controlled card games would violate state law (Penal Code §§ 330;337j). The only exception is for games played with cards in private homes or residences in which no person makes money for operating the game, except as a player."

Legislation has been introduced to allow charities to legally conduct poker and casino nights as fundraisers, but to date, the AG's notice above still represents the current state of the law in California.