Are Casino Night Fundraisers Legal?

scissors cutting red tape over a casino table

Hosting a casino night fundraiser can be a thrilling way to raise money for a good cause. The glitz and glamour of the games, the excitement of betting, and the overall fun atmosphere make it a popular choice for charitable events. However, before diving into planning such an event, it’s crucial to understand the legalities involved. This post explores whether casino night fundraisers are legal and how to ensure your event complies with the law.

Understanding the Legal Framework

The legality of casino night fundraisers varies significantly from one jurisdiction to another. In the United States, most states allow these events under specific conditions. These conditions often include prohibitions against real money exchanges and require that the games are for entertainment only. Typically, participants play games using “funny money,” and winnings are usually in the form of prizes.

The critical element that keeps these events legal is that no real gambling occurs. This distinction ensures that casino night fundraisers are gaming for entertainment rather than gambling.

Key Legal Considerations Around Casino Fundraisers

  1. State and Local Laws: Before planning a casino night fundraiser, check the specific laws in your state and local area. Some states have stringent gambling laws that could impact the ability to host such an event, even for charity.

  2. Licensing and Permits: Some jurisdictions may require a special license or permit to host a gaming night, even if it’s for charitable purposes. Ensure that you secure all necessary approvals well in advance.

  3. Hiring Professional Services: One of the safest ways to ensure your casino night fundraiser remains within legal bounds is to hire a professional company that specializes in these events. These companies are familiar with all the legal nuances and can provide not only the equipment but also advice on remaining compliant.

Are Casino Night Fundraisers Legal In California?

For nonprofit organizations in California looking to host a casino night fundraiser, understanding and adhering to the State’s legal requirements is crucial.

Registration and Compliance

To begin, nonprofit organizations must complete the Nonprofit Organization Annual Registration Form with the Department of Justice. This form serves dual purposes:

  1. Annual Registration: It registers the nonprofit for the calendar year, establishing its eligibility to apply for and conduct fundraising events.
  2. Event Registration: It includes a section specifically for registering the casino night fundraiser itself.

Key Regulations to Consider

  • Limitations on Frequency: Each nonprofit organization is allowed to host only one casino night fundraiser per calendar year, which ensures gambling activities remain a special, rather than regular, fundraising method.

  • Participant Age Requirement: No one under the age of 21 is permitted to participate in a casino night fundraiser. This aligns with general gambling age restrictions across most legal jurisdictions.

  • Approved Games: Only “controlled games” defined by California Penal Code section 337j(e)(1) are permitted. These do not include games like roulette, craps, twenty-one, or any banking or percentage games. Ensure your selected casino games are permitted by checking the DOJ’s list of controlled games.

Registration Process and Fees

The registration process is straightforward but requires attention to detail to avoid delays:

  • Timely Submission: Submit the completed registration form and the non-refundable $100 registration fee well in advance. The processing time for registrations is approximately 30 days from the receipt of the form and payment.

  • Rescheduling Events: If a registered organization needs to reschedule its casino fundraiser due to unforeseen circumstances, it must return the original registration certificate to the Bureau of Gambling Control before the original fundraiser date. This must be accompanied by a signed letter of request detailing the changes.

  • Handling Denials: If your event registration is denied, the organization must complete a new registration form and submit it again. Resubmitting a denied form is not permitted and will not be processed.

By carefully following these steps and ensuring compliance with all legal requirements, nonprofit organizations can successfully host casino fundraisers in California. This not only provides an enjoyable and engaging way to raise funds but also ensures that the event contributes positively to the organization’s charitable goals.

Benefits of a Legal Casino Night Fundraiser

When conducted legally, casino night fundraisers can offer numerous benefits:

  • High Engagement: Casino fundraisers are highly engaging and entertaining, making them effective at attracting a large number of participants.
  • Fundraising Potential: They can generate significant revenue when done right. Since the money is typically spent on buying chips and the chips can’t be cashed out, participants feel more inclined to spend freely, boosting funds raised.
  • Community Building: These events foster a sense of community and can be a great way to bring people together for a common cause.

Casino night fundraisers are legal and are a fantastic way to raise funds if executed within the framework of the law. It is essential to thoroughly research and comply with all applicable laws and regulations to ensure the event is not only successful but also legal.

Hiring professionals who are versed in the legal and practical aspects of these events can alleviate many of the stresses associated with compliance and logistics. By keeping within legal limits, your casino fundraiser can be a fun-filled event that legally raises money and awareness for your cause, ensuring everyone wins. 

If you’re looking to host a casino night fundraiser in Northern California, contact Aces Up Casino Parties for more info. Over the past 16 years, Aces Up has been a part of hundreds of casino night fundraisers and has the knowledge and experience to ensure your casino night fundraiser remains legal. Request a free quote today!


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