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Contact:

Neil Watson
Public Information Officer
neil.watson@nebraska.gov
402-471-6120

Charitable Gaming Press Kit

Contents


About the Charitable Gaming Division

The Nebraska Legislature has enacted laws to provide Nebraska nonprofit organizations and local municipalities a means to raise funds for charitable and community betterment purposes through the conduct of certain gaming activities. The charitable gaming activities authorized for nonprofit organizations are bingo, the sale of pickle cards (pull-tabs), and ticket drawings for either cash prizes (lotteries) or merchandise prizes (raffles). In addition, counties, cities, and villages are authorized to conduct keno lotteries.

Since 1986, the Nebraska Department of Revenue Charitable Gaming Division has been responsible for the licensing and regulation of those interested in conducting charitable gaming activities, for overseeing the proper conduct of games, and for insuring the profits are used in a lawful manner. The Charitable Gaming Division is self-supported through a portion of licensing fees and the various gaming taxes imposed by the Legislature. No state general funds are used to regulate charitable gaming.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are any other forms of gaming (gambling) allowed under Nebraska law?

Only those forms of gambling authorized by the Nebraska Constitution and Nebraska statutes can legally be conducted in our state. In addition to bingo, pickle cards, nonprofit lotteries and raffles, and local option keno, Nebraska law also permits horse racing when conducted at licensed racetrack facilities (this also includes intrastate and interstate simulcasting), and a state-operated lottery (scratch tickets, Powerball®, and other on-line games). All other forms of gambling are illegal.

Gambling by telephone or over the Internet is a violation of state and federal law, and individuals or entities engaging in this illegal activity could be subject to criminal prosecution.

What constitutes “Gambling”?

Gambling activities consist of three elements: Consideration, Chance, and Reward. When a person “wagers” something of value (consideration), for the opportunity to win a prize (reward), and the winner of the prize is determined by some random factor (chance), you have gambling.

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Charitable Gaming Activities

Only qualifying nonprofit organizations who have obtained the proper licenses or permits are allowed to conduct bingo, sell pickle cards, or hold a lottery or raffle. Only counties, cities, and villages whose citizens have approved a lottery in an election can be licensed to conduct keno. Businesses which hold a retail liquor license may be licensed to sell pickle cards on behalf of nonprofit organizations. Local businesses may be licensed as sales outlet locations for keno, if approved by the sponsoring county, city, or village. 

Help for compulsive gambling is available through the Compulsive Gambling Help Line: 800-522-4700.

County/City Lottery (Keno)

Gross Proceeds AllocationIn 1977, Nebraska became the first state to authorize “local option lotteries” to be conducted by counties, cities, and villages for the purpose of raising funds for community betterment purposes. Although other forms of local option lotteries (such as ticket drawings, video poker, and even scratch-offs) have come and gone with law changes over the years, keno has been the most enduring form of local option lottery and now represents roughly 70% of the total charitable gaming dollars wagered in our state. It is said that the game of keno was brought to the United States in the mid-to-late 1800s by Chinese immigrants who came to work on the railroads or in the gold and silver mines. The game was referred to then as the Chinese Lottery. The first keno game in Nebraska was operated by the City of Bellevue and was a manual game. Today, there are over 145 counties, cities, and villages which are licensed to conduct a keno lottery. Computerized keno systems are now required to be used, and businesses which operate keno on behalf of a county, city, or village are required to be licensed as lottery operators or sales outlet locations. Manufacturers of computerized keno systems and related equipment are also licensed, and the systems and equipment are tested and approved by the Charitable Gaming Division. You must be at least 19 years of age to play keno or to work at a keno lottery, and individuals who work at keno games are also licensed.

Click here for a historical perspective of county/city lottery (keno).

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Lotteries and Raffles

Lotteries and raffles are a way to raise funds for charity. In order to legally conduct a lottery or raffle in Nebraska, you must be a qualifying nonprofit organization. It is not sufficient to simply give all the money you raise to charity; a charity must actually be involved in running the activity from the beginning. Some lotteries and raffles (while not all) may need to be licensed. In general, a lottery awards cash prizes, while a raffle awards merchandise prizes. If gross lottery ticket sales will exceed $1,000, or gross raffle ticket sales will exceed $5,000, the nonprofit organization must first apply for and be issued a license by the Charitable Gaming Division. Lotteries and raffles that do not require a license do not have any age restrictions. However, when an activity is licensed, you must be 18 years of age to participate unless a special permit has been issued by the Charitable Gaming Division.

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Bingo

Bingo has been a legal form of charitable gaming in Nebraska since 1958. Bingo can be found in almost every county in Nebraska, from church basements to fraternal clubs, and town celebrations to commercial bingo halls. But regardless of the town or the size of the crowd, any time (a) a charge is required in order to play bingo, or (b) a prize with a value over $25 is awarded, a bingo license or permit is required. Depending on how often bingo is played, and how much revenue is generated on a yearly basis, different classes of licenses and permits are available. Certain individuals involved in conducting bingo, like the gaming manager and utilization of funds member, must obtain licenses. Manufacturers and distributors of bingo equipment are also required to be licensed. In general, you must be 18 years of age to play or help conduct bingo.

Click here for a chronology of state and local bingo taxes.

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Pickle Cards

“Pickle cards” are better known as “pull-tabs” to the rest of world, but as Nebraskans we prefer to be unique. The origin of the term “pickle card” comes from the days when they were sold illegally in taverns and bars across Nebraska. The cards were kept in large empty “pickle jars” which could easily be skirted out of sight. Today, pickle cards are sold legally by hundreds of licensed nonprofit organizations at their bingo games, club facilities, and on behalf of licensed organizations through convenience stores, bars, and restaurants licensed as “pickle card operators.” An individual called a “sales agent,” who represents the licensed organization and who must also obtain a license, sells and delivers pickle cards to the pickle card operators. Pickle cards are often still sold over the counter, but more frequently and conveniently, they are sold through vending machines called pickle card dispensing devices. The manufacturers and distributors of these games are licensed, and the Charitable Gaming Division approves each kind of pickle card sold. As with bingo, you must be 18 years of age to play or sell pickle cards.

Click here for a chronology of the state pickle card tax.

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Community Betterment

Charitable gaming proceeds benefit people across Nebraska. In fiscal year 2009-2010, $21.4 million in proceeds were reported to the Charitable Gaming Division as available for community betterment. Examples of community betterment projects include:

Permitted uses of charitable gaming funds are specifically defined in the regulations for each charitable gaming activity.

County/City Lottery (Keno)

Lotteries and Raffles

Bingo

Pickle Cards

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10-Year Comparison of Gaming Dollars Wagered

  FYE 6/2004 FYE 6/2005 FYE 6/2006 FYE 6/2007 FYE 6/2008
Keno  $182,190,233 $181,255,946 $185,340,795 $196,210,843 $210,833,663
Pickle Cards 57,510,542 50,819,571 45,943,737 41,620,943 40,737,874
Bingo 15,370,116 14,268,212 14,051,926 12,179,641 10,932,502
Lottery and Raffle 4,860,299 5,545,781 5,432,488 6,061,004 5,951,688
Totals $ 259,931,190 $ 251,889,510 $ 250,768,946 $ 256,072,431 $ 268,455,727
           
           
  FYE 6/2009 FYE 6/2010 FYE 6/2011 FYE 6/2012 FYE 6/2013
Keno $203,508,702 $185,461,253 $195,798,422 $203,810,243 $212,306,935
Pickle Cards 37,624,821 30,752,495 28,771,868 28,521,223 26,170,367
Bingo 10,516,491 9,427,780 8,900,653 8,134,470 7,651,612
Lottery and Raffle 5,876,642 6,820,938 6,993,205 6,863,176 6,905,289
Totals $ 257,526,656 $ 232,462,466 $ 240,464,148 $ 247,329,112 $ 253,034,203

The links in the above table refer to the Charitable Gaming Annual Report for that fiscal year. Click here for a listing of available Annual Reports.

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Chronology of State and Local Bingo Taxes

 Effective Date

 Law

Tax Rate on Gross Receipts

 

Regulatory Authority

06/18/1959

  9-113

-Local county, city, or village tax*
-County, city, or village transmits 5% of the 10% collected to the State Treasurer for deposit in General Fund

   10%

Governor

06/24/1969

  9-113

-State tax collected by Tax Commissioner
-Local county, city, or village tax*

    5%
    5%

Tax Commissioner

07/22/1978

  9-165

-Local county, city, or village tax*
-Additional county tax on all games operated in county
-No state tax

    5%
    5%

 

State Treasurer's office

08/26/1983

  9-165

-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax*

    6%
    4%

Bingo and Pickle Card Commission

07/17/1986

  9-239

-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax*

    6%
    4%

Dept of Revenue, Charitable Gaming Division

10/01/1990

  9-239

-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax*

    6%
    2%

 

10/01/1997

  9-239

-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax*

    3%
    1%

 

01/01/1999

  9-239

-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax eliminated

    3%

 

*If bingo game operated within city or village limits, city or village receives tax. If operated outside city or village limits, county receives tax.

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Chronology of the State Pickle Card Tax

Effective Date

Law

Tax Rate

Regulatory Authority

08/26/1983

9-184

2%of Gross Proceeds plus $2 per unit

Bingo and Pickle Card Commission

06/17/1986

9-344

2% of Gross Proceeds

Dept of Revenue, Charitable Gaming Division

07/01/1986

9-344

3% of Gross Proceeds

 

01/01/1988

9-344

20% of Definite Profit*

 

01/01/1989

9-344

13% of Definite Profit*

 

01/01/1990

9-344

10% of Definite Profit*

 

 * Definite Profit means the gross proceeds less prizes

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Historical Perspective - County/City Lottery (Keno)


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