Bingo (Beano) was legalized in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on September 29, 1971, and on September 4, 1973, Chapter 729 of the Acts of 1973 transferred responsibility for control of the operation of Bingo from the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety to the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission. Section 38 of Chapter 10 of the General Laws enabled Rules and Regulations controlling Bingo to be adopted on March 1, 1974 and amended in October 1974, July 1980, November 1991, March 1994 and October 2000. On January 1, 1978, Chapter 219 of the Acts of 1977 transferred responsibility for collection of the five percent Bingo and Raffle/Bazaar (Casino Functions) Tax from the Department of Revenue to the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission. Section 39A of Chapter 10 of the General Laws enabled Rules and Regulations Controlling Certain Raffle and Bazaar Permits to be adopted earlier and amended in December 1980.
The Charitable Gaming Division of the Lottery supported the explosive growth of Bingo as the game grew from 1973 through 1984. In calendar year 2012, Charitable Gaming licensees throughout the Commonwealth reported a total of $72.6 million in gross revenues, of which $36.5 million was derived from Bingo games; $14.8 million from Charity Game Ticket sales; $20.3 million from raffles, and $950,000 from Bazaars and Las Vegas nights.
In 2012, there were 180 organizations licensed to conduct Bingo in the Commonwealth.
The Charitable Gaming Division collect a 5% Bingo tax, which is distributed as follows:
- Three-fifths to the General Fund
- Two-fifths to the Lottery for the control of Bingo, subject to appropriation
- Any unappropriated balance is given to the Local Aid Fund
The Rules and Regulations for Bingo were updated in January 2001 to reflect changes in the Bingo law. Copies of these regulations are available through the Charitable Gaming Division at the address noted or by contacting the Charitable Gaming Division by phone at (781) 849-5555.
Changes in Legislation
On October 5, 2000, the amendments to Chapter 10, Sections 37 and 38 of the Massachusetts General Laws took effect to allow greater flexibility for charitable fundraising organizations, giving organizations the necessary tools to continue raising money to support worthy causes. This amendment provides for:
- Regular game prizes increased from $50 to $100 Bonus cards to allow greater interest in playing Special games with prizes not to exceed $500
- Retention of up to 5% of revenue from the Winner-Take-All game for organizations to cover the cost of supplies
- Four 50/50 games with prizes not to exceed $1,200
- Two progressive jackpot games to attract players — prizes up to $3,000
- Good Neighbor game with prizes not to exceed 10 percent of the announced prize for a given game
- Expansion of the pool of volunteers to assist in the conduct of Bingo
Charity Game Ticket Changes
Allow for the sale of Charity Game tickets, or break-open tickets, on the premises of Charitable Games licensees beyond the approved Bingo hours. All tickets provide a minimum gross profit to Bingo organizations of 30% of the resale value. Tickets are sold to organizations for 10% of their resale value, which is prepaid upon purchase from the Commission. Bingo organizations reported $14.8 million from the sale of Charity Game Tickets during 2012.
Senior Citizens’ Recreational Bingo Changes
Allow handicapped persons to participate in running Senior Citizens’ Recreational Bingo at Senior Citizens’ or Golden Age Clubs for group members. Groups are required to apply for an identification number from the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission, and qualified organizations are provided certificates at no cost. During 2012, the Lotter Commission had on file 907 identification numbers issued for Senior Citizens' Recreational Bingo. Our field staff meets with licensees to discuss game formats and our financial staff works with licensees to explain the necessary reporting requirements. Both field and financial personnel are available to assist licensees and players and answer any questions they may have.
Charitable Gaming Division, Raffles/Bazaars (Casino Functions)
Organizations with a Raffle and Bazaar permit from the local city or town clerk can have an unlimited amount of raffles while the permit is valid (one year from the date of issuance). The permit also allows a maximum of three (3) Casino Nights. The definition of a Bazaar is NOT your local Church bazaar. The law defines a Bazaar as a Casino or Las Vegas Night.
The Lottery Commission acts strictly as a tax collector for Raffles and Casino nights. We don’t have the authority to either deny a permit or require one to be issued. Under the law, the local licensing officials (city/town clerk and chief of police) determine whether or not your organization is eligible for the permit. If a permit is issued, the Lottery Commission is notified and will forward the appropriate tax forms.
There are two (2) sets of regulations governing Casino Nights.
- If your organization doesn’t hold a Bingo license and won’t be sponsoring your Casino night in a hall that holds a Bingo license, the Office of the Attorney General cites the regulations that must be followed, Regulation 940 CMR 13.00.
- If your organization holds a Bingo license or will be holding your Casino Night in a hall that holds a Bingo license, you must conform to Las Vegas Night Lottery Regulation 940 CMR 4.00. The Lottery Commission DOES NOT allow Poker or Night at the Races. Please note: Bingo licensees that allow outside groups to hold Casino nights in their hall must be sure that the Lottery regulations are followed. Failure of a group to follow these regulations puts its License to Conduct Bingo at risk.
Copies of the regulations may be obtained from the Lottery Commission.
The Charitable Gaming Division of the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission issues Bingo licenses to organizations meeting the requirements in Chapter 10, Section 38 of the Massachusetts General Laws. The annual fee for the Bingo license is $50.00. Organizations are required to pay a 5% tax on the gross proceeds of each Bingo event.
Raffles and Casino Nights (Bazaars)
Under the law governing Raffles and Bazaars, Chapter 271, 7A of the Massachusetts General Laws, organizations wishing to hold a Raffle or Casino Night in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must first obtain a raffle and bazaar permit from the local city/town clerk in the city/town where the drawing or casino night will be held. Any organization holding a raffle or bazaar in the Commonwealth must pay a 5% tax on the gross proceeds, which is an excise tax on wagering.
One-Day Bingo (Beano)
The Charitable Gaming Division of the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission issues one-day Bingo licenses. Qualified organizations must be non-profit and organized and operating as a non-profit for a period of two years in the Commonwealth. The fee for the Bingo license is $50.00, and all organizations are required to pay a 5% tax on the gross proceeds of the Bingo event.
One-Day Bingo License Guidelines
- Groups must be non-profit in nature and organized and operating as such for a period of two years in the Commonwealth.
- Groups will have to provide proof of their non-profit status.
- The one-day license fee is $50.00, payable to the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission.
- Groups may use a hall of their own choosing or the Lottery will pair them up with an existing licensee who can provide gaming assistance.
- No person under the age of 18 will be allowed to participate.
- The Lottery Commission will assist groups in designing a format for their event, and will have personnel on site to oversee the preparation of the appropriate paperwork.
- A tax of 5% on the gross proceeds will be due the Lottery Commission.
- Charity Game Tickets can be sold at the game; the non-profit group will pay only for the tickets they sell.
- Funds raised must be used for charitable, religious and educational purposes.
- Local approval (Board of Selectman or City Council and Mayor, and Chief of Police) must be obtained prior to Licensing by the Lottery Commission.
- Group must play in a city or town that currently allows Bingo.
- Must provide Lottery with at least 2 months notice of intent to conduct game.
- The Lottery reserves the right to deny a license for a day and time that will conflict with an existing Bingo game in the area.
- Please contact the Lottery at (781) 849-5555, ext. 527, for further information.
If you wish to receive a directory, contact the Lottery at 781-849-555 extension 5527 or 5345 or write to us at Massachusetts State Lottery Commission, Charitable Gaming Division, 60 Columbian Street, Braintree, MA 02184.
The Lottery Commission is required by law to file a Departmental Annual
Report with the Legislature by April 1 of each year. This report contains
information on the number of licenses by categories of organization, the
revenue received from these licenses, and other relevant information. For
copies of this report, call the Charitable Gaming Division of the
Massachusetts State Lottery at (781) 849-5555.
Click here for Charitable Gaming 2013 Annual Report
Approximately 65% of the money collected at Charitable Gaming Events returns back to players as prizes. The other part helps support your local communities.
If you have any questions on Bingo laws or other Charitable Gaming policies, please call the Massachusetts State Lottery at (781) 849-5555 and use the following extensions:
Bingo/Charity Games Audits, Financial Reports and Financial Inquiries, Raffles/Casino Functions
- Administration: Ext. 5527
- Auditing: Ext. 5337, 5339, 5334
- Accounting: Ext. 5341, 5336
Bingo Game Operations, Charity Game Tickets
- Senior Citizen Recreational Bingo: Ext. 5345, 5420, 5440, 5720
- Regional Offices: 1-800-342-3031 or:
- Woburn: (781) 935-2668 (local) Charitable Gaming Regional Staff: Ext. 5440
- New Bedford: (508) 985-9892 (local)
- W. Springfield: (413) 781-3880 (local) Charitable Gaming Regional Staff: Ext. 5420
- Worcester: (508) 755-7855 (local)
Massachusetts State Lottery Commission
Charitable Gaming Division
60 Columbian Street
Braintree, MA 02184