Charitable Gaming FAQs

Who can apply to hold a charitable gaming event?
The law currently allows IRS 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) organizations to operate an annual game of chance. Organizations must apply and be approved by two-thirds vote of the General Assembly.

What games are authorized and how many may I operate during the annual event?
Only one approved event is allowed each year and

  • Authorized types of games include raffles, reverse raffles, cakewalks, and cakewheels.
  • Unauthorized games include bingo, pulltabs, punchboards, video lottery games, instant and on-line lottery games of a type operated by the Tennessee education Lottery Corporation, keno and games of chance associated with casinos including, but not limited to, slot machines, roulette wheels, and the like.

What are the basic requirements of the law?

  • A qualified organization may conduct one event during an event period. An event period runs from July 1 (after the close of the application period on January 31) through June 30 of the next year. So, if an organization applies by January 31, 2015, to conduct an annual gaming event, it may only apply for a date between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016.
  • The organization must have documentation from the Internal Revenue Service recognizing it as exempt from federal income taxation pursuant to IRC 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19).
  • 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) organizations must be active and in continuous existence in Tennessee for at least five (5) years or meet all statutory requirements under the Tennessee Charitable Gaming Implementation Law.  
  • An event is restricted to a location within a county where the organization has a physical presence or in a county contiguous to one in which it has a physical presence. 
  • Only two organizations may operate an event each month at the same location. 

What is the definition of an annual event?
It means an event that meets all of the following criteria:

  • Authorized by two thirds ( 2/3 ) vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly;
  • Operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organization located in Tennessee;
  • Conducted with a single type of lottery game;
  • Conducted on an event date and
  • Conducted at a location within a county where the organization maintains a physical presence or in a county that is contiguous to a county where the organization maintains a physical presence.

How do I apply to have an annual event?

  • Submit an application and all required attachments between July 1st and January 31st each year.
  • If a filing deadline falls on a non-business day, applications will be accepted on the next business day.
  • The postmark date will be used to determine the filing date.
  • Mail or deliver the application to the Division located at 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 8th Floor, Williams R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, Nashville, Tennessee 37243. Business hours are 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday.
  • A non-refundable fee based on the projected gross revenue of the event must be submitted with the application in accordance with the following sliding fee scale:
Event Gross Filing Fee
$0 - $5,000 $150
$5,001 - $10,000 $300
$10,001 - $20,000 $450
Over 20,001 $600

Who can operate the annual gaming event?
The organization must operate the gaming event and is not allowed to pay a third party to manage or conduct the activity. Staff and volunteers must be actively involved in the overall planning and operation.

Are there individuals who are not allowed to purchase tickets?
Yes. The individuals who are not allowed to purchase tickets include:

  • Any member of the board of directors of a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organization authorized by the general assembly to operate an annual event for such organization.
  • Any officer or employee of a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organization authorized by the general assembly to operate an annual event for such organization.
  • Any immediate family member residing in the same household of the board of directors or an officer / employee of the organization. (The Charitable Gaming Law defines immediate family as spouse, child, step-child, brother, sister, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, parent or grandparent)
  • Any member of the general assembly during such member's term of office as a member of the general assembly.
  • The Secretary of State or any employee of the Secretary during the Secretary's term of office and such employee's term of employment with the Secretary.
  • Any vendors including employees, agents or subcontractors (also includes immediate family members of same household) who provide printing services, telephone services and any records, devices or other gaming related supplies and those who provide prizes for the authorized annual gaming event.

When can an organization begin selling tickets?
Organizations with an approved gaming event can begin selling tickets 120 days before the event.

Are accounting reports or post event financial data required?
Yes. A financial report is due 90 days after the annual event date stated in your application. If gross revenue from an event exceeds $50,000 an audited financial statement is also required. Also, organizations must return at least 25% of its gross proceeds of the event back to its stated charitable purpose or program.

What happens if the reports are not filed?
An organization that fails to submit the report by 90 days will be responsible for a $25.00 per month late fee. If a report is not filed at all, action may be taken against the organization. Failure to timely file in 2 of 3 consecutive gaming event periods could result in disqualification from conducting future events.

If 25% is not returned to the charitable purpose or program, what does the organization need to do?
The nonprofit must file a notice with the Division stating the reason less than 25% was returned to its charitable purpose or program. If this happens in two (2) consecutive years, the nonprofit will be permanently disqualified from applying or holding future gaming events.

May two 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organizations jointly operate an annual event?
Yes, however each participating organization must file an application and each pay the required fee. All applicants must qualify.  If one organization fails to qualify, then participants will be rejected.

Where can I obtain the forms to apply?
Applications, affidavits, accounting forms, and instructions are available online at http://sos.tn.gov/charitable-solicitations-and-gaming/charitable-gaming-forms. You may also pick up forms at the Division's office. For more information call (615) 741-2555.

Where can I access a copy of the law and rules for charitable gaming events?
Please call (615) 741-2555 or visit http://share.tn.gov/sos/rules/1360/1360-03/1360-03.htm

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