Top of Page Back to "Foundations on Line"

California Bingo -Questions? Webfund@aol.com

This page is provided as an aid to law enforcement officers and citizens of the State of California.The following material includes the State of California Penal Code section 326.5 on Bingo, and also a running interpretation column which provides simple language interpretations of difficult to understand sections.
The right hand "interpretation column", (blue & red text) is based on research of state and local documents, court cases, and statements and comments provided by law enforcement officers at the state and local levels in the State of California.  Our interpretation is not a legal opinion, but a common sense guide based on our research. We are often called upon by game operators and law enforcement for our perception of 326.5.
Note*Some city codes have additional requirements which are primarily the work of special interests.
Quick Links to page sections-Just Click on an item
Amendments        Begin- 326.5                The History of 326.5                    Court Decisions regarding 326.5
Pull Tabs                    Organizations allowed to operate bingo                  Attorney General Opinions                Advanced Electronic Quick Action Bingo
Other Organizations                    Important AG opinion regarding electronic bingo                    Advanced Bingo machine, Digital

  PENAL CODE

CHAPTER 9. Lotteries

Cal Pen Code @ 326.5 (1999)

@ 326.5. Bingo games

(a) Neither this chapter nor Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 330) applies to any bingo game that is conducted in a city, county, or city and county pursuant to an ordinance enacted under Section 19 of Article IV of the State Constitution, if the ordinance allows games to be conducted only by organizations exempted from the payment of the bank and corporation tax by Sections 23701a, 23701b, 23701d, 23701e, 23701f, 23701g, and 23701l of the Revenue and Taxation Code and by mobilehome park associations and senior citizens organizations; and if the receipts of those games are used only for charitable purposes.    Return to Top of Page

(b) It is a misdemeanor for any person to receive or pay a profit, wage, or salary from any bingo game authorized by Section 19 of Article IV of the State Constitution. Security personnel employed by the organization conducting the bingo game may be paid from the revenues of bingo games, as provided in subdivisions (j) and (k).

(c) A violation of subdivision (b) shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($ 10,000), which fine is deposited in the general fund of the city, county, or city and county that enacted the ordinance authorizing the bingo game. A violation of any provision of this section, other than subdivision (b), is a misdemeanor.

(d) The city, county, or city and countythat enacted the ordinance authorizing the bingo game may bring an action to enjoin a violation of this section.

(e) No minors shall be allowed to participate in any bingo game.                                                
Return to Top of Page
(f) An organization authorized to conduct bingo games pursuant to subdivision (a) shall conduct a bingo game only on property owned or leased by it,
or property whose use is donated to the organization, and which property is used by that organization for an office or for performance of the purposes for which the organization is organized. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to require that the property owned or leased by, or whose use is donated to, the organization be used or leased exclusively by, or donated exclusively to, that organization.

(g) All bingo games shall be open to the public, not just to the members of the authorized organization.

(h) A bingo game shall be operated and staffed only by members of the authorized organization that organized it. Those members shall not receive a profit, wage, or salary from any bingo game. Only the organization authorized to conduct a bingo game shall operate such a game, or participate in the promotion, supervision, or any other phase of a bingo game. This subdivision does not preclude the employment of security personnel who are not members of the authorized organization at a bingo game by the organization conducting the game.

(i) No individual, corporation, partnership, or other legal entity, except the organization authorized to conduct a bingo game, shall hold a financial interest in the conduct of a bingo game.

(j) With respect to organizations exempt from payment of the bank and corporation tax by Section 23701d of the Revenue and Taxation Code, all profits derived from a bingo game shall be kept in a special fund or account and shall not be commingled with any other fund or account. Those profits shall be used only for charitable purposes.

                                                           

 

 

(k) With respect to other organizations authorized to conduct bingo games pursuant to this section, all proceeds derived from a bingo game shall be kept in a special fund or account and shall not be commingled with any other fund or account. Proceeds are the receipts of bingo games conducted by organizations not within subdivision (j). Those proceeds shall be used only for charitable purposes, except as follows:    

Return to Top of Page

(1) The proceeds may be used for prizes.

(2) A portion of the proceeds, not to exceed 20 percent of the proceeds before the deduction for prizes, or two thousand dollars ($ 2,000) per month, whichever is less, may be used for the rental of property and for overhead, including the purchase of bingo equipment, administrative expenses, security equipment, and security personnel.

(3) The proceeds may be used to pay license fees.

(4) A city, county, or city and county that enacts an ordinance permitting bingo games may specify in the ordinance that if the monthly gross receipts from bingo games of an organization within this subdivision exceed five thousand dollars ($ 5,000), a minimum percentage of the proceeds shall be used only for charitable purposes not relating to the conducting of bingo games and that the balance shall be used for prizes, rental of property, overhead, administrative expenses, and payment of license fees. The amount of proceeds used for rental of property, overhead, and administrative expenses is subject to the limitations specified in paragraph (2).

(l ) (1) A city, county, or city and county may impose a license fee on each organization that it authorizes to conduct bingo games. The fee, whether for the initial license or renewal, shall not exceed fifty dollars ($ 50) annually, except as provided in paragraph (2). If an application for a license is denied, one-half of any license fee paid shall be refunded to the organization.

(2) In lieu of the license fee permitted under paragraph (1), a city, county, or city and county may impose a license fee of fifty dollars ($ 50) paid upon application. If an application for a license is denied, one-half of the application fee shall be refunded to the organization. An additional fee for law enforcement and public safety costs incurred by the city, county, or city and county that are directly related to bingo activities may be imposed and shall be collected monthly by the city, county, or city and county issuing the license; however, the fee shall not exceed the actual costs incurred in providing the
service.

(m) No person shall be allowed to participate in a bingo game, unless the person is physically present at the time and place where the bingo game is being conducted.

(n) The total value of prizes awarded during the conduct of any bingo games shall not exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($ 250) in cash or kind, or both, for each separate game which is held.

(o) As used in this section, "bingo" means a game of
chance in which prizes are awarded on the basis of designated numbers or symbols on a card that conform to numbers or symbols selected at random. Notwithstanding Section 330c, as used in this section, the game of bingo includes cards having numbers or symbols that are concealed and preprinted in a manner providing for distribution of prizes. The winning cards shall not be known prior to the game by any person participating in the playing or operation of the bingo game. All preprinted cards shall bear the legend, "for sale or use only in a bingo game authorized under California law and pursuant to local ordinance." It is the intention of the Legislature that bingo as defined in this subdivision applies exclusively to this section and shall not be applied in the construction or enforcement of any
other provision of law.

HISTORY:                          Return to Top of Page
Added Stats 1975 ch 869 @ 1, adopted at Election June 8, 1976; Amended Stats
1977 ch 271 @ 1, effective July 8, 1977; Stats 1979 ch 1006 @ 1; Stats 1980 ch
997 @ 1; Stats 1981 ch 804 @ 1.
Amended Stats 1993 ch 394 @ 1 (AB 1216).
Amended Stats 1996 ch 283 @ 1 (AB 2770).

NOTES:
AMENDMENTS:

                                                          Return to Top of Page
1977 Amendment:
(1) Substituted all that part following "allows games" for "only for the benefit of organizations exempted from the payment of the bank and corporation tax by Section 23701d of the Revenue and Taxation Code and a contribution or gift to which would be a charitable contribution under Section 170(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954" in subd (a);

(2) added "or pay" in subd (b);

(3) added the second sentence of subd (c);

(4) amended subd (f) by (a) substituting "An organization authorized to conduct bingo games pursuant to subdivision (a)" for "A nonprofit, charitable organization"; and (b) adding the
second sentence;

(5) substituted "authorized" for "nonprofit charitable" in
subds (g) and (h);

(6) substituted subd (j) for former subd (j) which read: "(j)
All profits derived from a bingo game shall be kept in a special fund or account and shall not be commingled with any other fund or account.";

(7) amended subd (k) by (a) substituting "on each" for "not to exceed the actual cost of issuing each license, on each nonprofit, charitable"; and (b) adding the second and third sentences; and

(8) added the last sentence of subd (n).
                                                           
Return to Top of Page

1979 Amendment:
(1) Amended subd (j)(2) by (a) substituting "before" for "after" after "the proceeds"; and (b) adding "including the purchase of bingo equipment,";

(2) added subd (j)(3);

(3) redesignated former subd (k) to be subd (k)(1);

(4) added "annually, except as provided in paragraph (2)" at the end of the second sentence of subd (k) (1);

(5) added subd (k) (2); and

(6) added the second, third, and fourth sentences of subd (n).


1980 Amendment:
Added subd (j)(4).

                                                     Return to Top of Page
1981 Amendment:
(1) Substituted "receipts" for "proceeds" after "provided that the" near the end of subd (a);

(2) added the second sentence of subd (b);

(3) amended subd (f) by adding (a) "or property whose use is donated to the organization," in the first sentence; and (b) "or whose use is donated to" and "or donated exclusively to" in the second sentence;

(4) added the fourth sentence of subd (h);

(5) added the comma after "individual" in subd (i);

(6) designated the former second sentence and subds (1)-(4) of subd (j) to be subd (k);

(7) added the second sentence of subd (k);

(8) amended subd (k)(2) by substituting (a) "20" for "10"; (b) "one thousand dollars ($ 1,000)" for "five hundred dollars ($ 500)"; and (c) "administrative expenses, security equipment, and security personnel" for "and admininstrative expenses";

(9) amended subd (k)(4) by (a) substituting "the monthly gross receipts from bingo games of an organization within this subdivision" for "an rganization's monthly gross receipts from bingo games" in the first sentence; and (b) adding the comma after "overhead" in the second sentence; and

(10) redesignated former subds (k)-(n) to be subds (l)-(o).

                                                          Return to Top of Page
1993 Amendment:
In addition to making technical changes, substituted "two thousand dollars ($2,000)" for "one thousand dollars ($ 1,000)" in subd (k)(2).


1996 Amendment:
In addition to making technical changes, (1) substituted "a bingo" for "such" after "other phase of" in subd (h); and (2) added the last sentence in subd (l)(2).

CROSS REFERENCES:               Return to Top of Page
Tax exemptions of nonprofit organizations conducting bingo games: Rev & Tax C
@@ 215.2, 23710.

COLLATERAL REFERENCES:
Witkin & Epstein, Criminal Law (2d ed) @@ 847, 853.
Cal Jur 3d (Rev) Criminal Law @ 1048.

ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OPINIONS:                                Return to Top of Page
Pen C @ 326.5, pertaining to bingo games, supersedes the provisions of Pen C @@ 319-326, pertaining to lotteries, as to any bingo game authorized by @ 326.5, but not as to any bingo game not so authorized. If a bingo game is truly free to all participants, the element of consideration necessary to a lottery is missing and an operator is not subject to prosecution under Pen C @ 319-326.

60 Op Atty Gen Cal Cal 130.         Return to Top of Page
Organizations licensed to conduct bingo games may not install and utilize player-operated computerized electronic video machines for this purpose.

67 Op Atty Gen Cal Cal 528.
Community college district is not entity which may be authorized by local ordinance to conduct bingo games pursuant to provisions of Penal Code Section 326.5.

70 Op Atty Gen Cal Cal 109.          Return to Top of Page
Electronic system of bingo which substitutes hand computer with stored bingo "card" matrices for traditional paper or cardboard bingo cards does not qualify as bingo within meaning of Pen C @ 326.5, subd. (o). (1987)

70 Op Atty Gen Cal Cal 304.
City or county may not impose fee upon tax exempt nonprofit organization measured as percentage of gross receipts derived from operation of bingo games.

 


78 Op Atty Gen Cal Cal 279.   
Return to Top of Page
A bingo player may use an electronic aid in conjunction with traditional bingo cards to notify him when a game has been won. 1998
Click here to see the full AG opinion.

 

81 Op Atty Gen Cal Cal 415.
A charitable organization may not conduct a bingo game know as "progressive power ball bingo" in which a game winner may receive more than $250 in prizes.

82 Op Atty Gen Cal Cal Cal 132.

NOTES OF DECISIONS                                                        Return to Top of Page

In an action by a city to collect a graduated income tax, pursuant to municipal law, on the gross income generated by bingo games operated by a religious corporation, the trial court erred in holding valid the tax on such activities, since state law has preempted the field of taxation of bingo games. Plaintiff operated its games pursuant to Cal. Const., art. IV, @ 19 (which authorizes bingo games, previously prohibited as gambling, for charitable purposes only) and

Pen. Code, @ 326.5 (which provides the rules as to use of
funds derived from bingo games and allows a municipality to impose a $ 50 annual license fee). The tax was not permitted by @ 326.5, and the municipality had no right as a charter "home rule" city to impose a revenue-intended tax unimpaired by state legislation, since bingo sales exist and operate only by virtue of such special constitutional and statutory permission. Accordingly, in allowing such games to operate within the city, the municipality may give that permission only on the terms of the legislative permit. <=8> City of Pomona v Christian Fellowship Center (1981, 2d Dist) 125 Cal App 3d 250, 177 Cal Rptr 897. @ 326.5, which controls the conduct of bingo games, is regulatory and civil in nature, and therefore, in an action requesting declaratory and injunctive relief from the enforcement of certain county and state laws pertaining to the operation of bingo games on an Indian reservation,, the enforcement of local and state laws would be enjoined since certain states are given only criminal jurisdiction over offenses committed on Indian reservations under <=9> 18 USCS @ 1162. <=10> Barona Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians v Duffy (1982, CA9 Cal) 694 F2d 1185.


Punchboard bingo, which falls within the amendment to former Pen. Code, @ 326.5, subd. (n) (now Pen. Code, @ 326.5, subd. (o)), defining charitable "bingo" games as including cards having numbers or symbols which are concealed and preprinted in a manner providing for distribution of prizes, notwithstanding
Pen. Code, @ 330c (declaring "punchboards" to be illegal slot machines), was constitutionally authorized by the 1976 amendment to Cal. Const., art. IV, @ 19, subd. (c), providing the Legislature by statute may authorize cities and counties to provide for bingo games, but only for charitable purposes. Thus, the trial court did not err in denying a county authorization to destroy 8,000 punchboard cards containing winning numbers or symbols concealed by opaque coverings which were being sold for 50 cents each as bingo games for charity. Neither the express language of art. IV, @ 19, subd. (c), nor any clear import to be divined from the constitutional amendment, demonstrate the statutory definition of bingo as amended in 1979 is unreasonable or clearly inconsistent with the Constitution. <=11> People v 8,000 Punchboard Card Devices (1983, 1st Dist) 142 Cal App 3d 618, 191 Cal Rptr 154.
The trial court properly denied a preliminary injunction sought by a religious organization to prevent a city from enforcing an ordinance prohibiting break open bingo, in which the participant purchases a card that is a predetermined winner or loser, notwithstanding the contention the ordinance conflicted with Pen. Code, @ 326.5, which authorizes cities to allow charitable organizations to conduct bingo games. Although @ 326.5, subd. (o), defines bingo to include break open bingo, the question whether to allow bingo at all is left to local government entities under Cal. Const., art. IV, @ 19. Thus, bingo is a matter of local, not state, concern and the regulation at issue did not enter a field occupied by the state. Section 326.5 does not indicate that a city or county, if it provides for bingo, must permit bingo in both of the forms defined by the statute. <=12> Lubavitch Congregation v Long Beach (1990, 2nd Dist)217 Cal App 3d 1388, 266 Cal Rptr 513.
Return to Top of Page

Interpretation/Guide

 Scroll Down

 

 

This means that the Penal Code which does not allow llegal lotteries does not apply to bingo. Bingo enjoys an exemption from the Penal Code restrictions, as long as the bingo is operated strictly for charitable purposes.
This means that all of these organizations are authorized to operate bingo games for charitable purposes. But it doesn't mean that all of these organizations are charitable organizations. Some of them are merely non-profit organizations. They must give the bingo proceeds to charity.
 
This means that money earned from a bingo game may not be used to pay anyone to operate a bingo game.
 
 
 
 
 

 Scroll Down
 
This means that minors (under 18 years of age) may not participate in a bingo game.
 
This means that an organization which is authorized to conduct bingo can own and maintain offices in the building in which they operate bingo, or they can have the property donated to them, or they can rent the property in which the bingo game is operated. They are not required to have exclusive use of the building. And, they do not have to rent it for their exclusive use.
 
 
 
 

 Scroll Down
 
 
 
 
 
(j) This refers to non-profit, tax exempt, charitable organizations. They are classified under Section 23701d of the California Revenue and Taxations Code, and under 501(c)3 or 501(9)a of the Internal Revenue code. They must maintain a separate bingo account for the purposes of operating their bingo game. They are allowed to transfer "profits" from the bingo account into their charitable operating accounts to be used for their charitable purposes as stated in their articles of incorporation.
 
(k)These other organizations which are allowed to operate bingo include fraternal organizations, such as Lions Clubs, Moose Lodges, Order of resters,Veterans organizations, American Legions,mobile home parks, senior citizen organizations etc. They are typically not charitable organizations, and therefore must give 100% of the net proceeds less a statutory exemption to charity. Other organizations must keep all bingo income in a special fund or account, and may not commingle it with any other fund or account.
 
Statutory exemption: These other organizations have a limit of spending no more than $2,000 per month for the operation of any bingo game.
 
 

 Scroll Down
This section is for other organizations only!
 
 
 
 
 
This section is for all organizations licensed to conduct bingo.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The bingo player must be physically present at the time and place where the bingo game is being conducted.
 
 
 
 
 
This section refers to pull tabs or punch cards. Bingo pull tabs are classified as bingo. Therefore, bingo pull tabs may be used in addition to paper or cardboard bingo cards with numbers visible.
Bingo pull tabs may also be used alone, without paper bingo cards in a bingo game operated only for charitable purposes. Bingo pull tabs can be sold at festivals and other functions attended by the public as long as the host organization has a bingo permit.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 Scroll Down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on this link to see an update on this item below!
 
 
 
 
Click on this link to see an update on this item below!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Electronic Aids may be used in conjunction with traditional bingo cards to notify when a win has taken place.All printed bingo cards which are electronically present in each electronic device must accompany that device.
123
See the new - Bingo Machine