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Senate Bill 1254 — Relating to charitable gambling

Senate Bill 1254 — Relating to charitable gambling

Lindsay Atkinson
January 27, 2020

Bill description: SB 1254 amends the statute governing charitable bingo and raffles by defining what charitable organizations qualify for a license, reducing the number of members on the bingo-raffle advisory board, and making other changes and corrections.

Rating: -2

Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market? 

The current section of Idaho Code that regulates the conduct and qualifications for charitable gambling states that money obtained through the practice of charitable gambling (raffle and bingo games) can only be used for specific activities. This bill would amend current Idaho statute by relocating the discussion of these specific activities into the “definitions” section of this chapter, thus creating a strict definition of what constitutes a "charitable purpose." 

This definition restricts charitable purpose to only include certain practices. Specifically:

  • The advancement of “a religious, charitable, civic, scientific testing, public safety, literary, or educational purpose.” 
  • The maintenance and operation of land owned or rented by a nonprofit organization “that is used for civic purposes or made available by the charitable or nonprofit organization for use by the general public from time to time.”
  • “To foster amateur sports competition.”
  • To prevent “cruelty to humans or animals.”

Since charitable organizations have to conform to this definition of a charitable purpose to qualify for a license, organizations that have charitable purposes outside of these activities are not able to raise money through charitable gambling. As of 2018, there were 178 organizations across Idaho licensed to conduct charitable gambling. 

Additionally, under the changes made by this bill, charitable organizations would have to be in continual existence for one year before becoming eligible for a charitable gambling license. This change would put newly formed charitable organizations at a disadvantage, unable to obtain this license.


Furthermore, this bill adds new mandates specifically relating to raffles. They require nonprofit organizations to set the date that raffle sales begin, the price of raffle tickets, the established prizes of the raffle, and the end date of the raffle, all before the raffle can begin. But if the organization’s raffle license expires before the end of the raffle, that organization has to renew their license in order to complete it.


Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government?

This bill reduces the number of bingo-raffle advisory board members from six down to five. Additionally, the requirement that the board members represent different regions of the state is stricken, and the bill also strikes the current restriction that  no “more than three (3) members of the board shall belong to the same political party.”


Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes? 

This bill adds a new grounds for misdemeanor charges to state law. This bill would make it a misdemeanor to “willfully or knowingly furnish, supply, or otherwise give false information in any statement filed” with the state lottery commission regarding charitable raffles.


Analyst’s Note: This bill rating was amended on 2/11 to reflect further information received from the Idaho State Lottery.

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