We at Vegas Concepts Casino Events receive many inquiries about whether or not we are an actual casino, so we explain that we are not a casino, but a casino-themed event planning company. Oftentimes we are asked about planning casino night events for charitable causes. Most callers are completely misinformed about Texas law with respect to charity casino events. That’s where our 35-plus years of practical experience can help!
Texas gambling laws are perhaps the strictest in the US. Though gambling is not illegal, there are certain requirements necessary in order to do such legally. There can be a fine line between what is considered “gambling” and what is considered “entertainment.” We are not offering legal advice, just our expertise in conducting successful charity casino events that abide by the law.
Texas Law regarding Raffles and Casino/Poker Nights
Excerpts from the Texas Attorney General website –
The Charitable Raffle Enabling Act, Chapter 2002 of the Occupations Code (CREA) establishes the guidelines for raffles in Texas. See Tex. Occ. Code Ann. Ch. 2002 (Vernon 2004). The statute is very technical and should be consulted before advising an organization regarding the legality of a proposed raffle. There are numerous Attorney General Opinions regarding both raffles and casino/poker nights. The Attorney General is not permitted to give specific legal advice to members of the general public, and the following represents only guidelines for suggested responses to frequently asked questions.
What is a raffle?
CREA defines a raffle as ‘the award of one or more prizes by chance at a single occasion among a single pool or group of persons who have paid or promised a thing of value for a ticket that represents a chance to win a prize.’
Who may conduct raffle?
Only a qualified religious society that has been in existence in Texas for at least 10 years; a qualified volunteer fire department that operates fire fighting equipment, provides fire-fighting services and that does not pay its members other than nominal compensation; a qualified volunteer emergency medical service that does not pay its members other than nominal compensation; or a qualified 501(c) tax-exempt, nonprofit organization that has been in existence for at least three years may hold raffles in Texas. Individuals and for-profit businesses may not hold raffles.
For what may the money raised by used?
All proceeds from raffles must be used for the charitable purposes of the organization as defined by CREA 2002.002.
Can my nonprofit hold a poker tournament or casino night fundraiser?
Unlike raffles and bingo, there is NO exception to the gambling law in Texas for nonprofits to hold poker or casino night fundraising events. The gambling law, Chapter 47 of the Penal Code, applies to nonprofits and to for-profits equally. Refer to Tex. Pen. Code Ann. §47 (Vernon 2003).
What if the poker tournament or casino night is held in a private place?
It is legal for individuals to play poker or other casino activities in a private place, defined as ‘a place to which the public does not have access.’ They can bet money and win money. However, all money must be redistributed to the participants. The ‘house’ cannot keep a cut, thus it would obviously be difficult for a nonprofit to raise funds in this way.
How It’s Done – Legally
As clearly stated in the code, “there is NO exception” to the law in Texas, so there is NO loophole to get around it. However, this doesn’t prevent the show from going on!
- All 501(C), tax-exempt, not-for-profit organizations can successfully host a casino-themed charity fundraiser and also meet the requirements of the law.
- Vegas Concepts uses “funny money” in all of its casino games, there is no actual “money” at stake. The entire “Las Vegas” aspect of our casino games is solely for entertainment purposes.
- Door-prizes and raffles can be the way to go! The law allows a qualified organization up to 2 raffle events per calendar year. Raffles are most effective for smaller groups of under 100 guests. Clever prize ideas are gift cards, wine baskets, business services, venue memberships, sporting activities, and resort/hotel stays!
- Auctions are great for groups of 100 or more. Live auctions and silent auctions are both effective with silent auctions better suited for a larger number of auction items at a price of $500 or less, and live auctions the best option for a smaller number of higher-priced items.
- Obtaining financial donations through “pledges” to “support your cause” is the main purpose of holding a charity fundraiser, and it’s perfectly legal! Donations can also be in the form of services such as printing, marketing, food, live music, venue, and decorations./p>
If you have any questions about the laws of Texas in regard to charity fundraisers, give us a call at 972-438-1800, or at 817-825-4255, and we’ll be glad to clarify them with you.
Off the Cuff – Whacky Laws of Yore
Interestingly, there are still laws in effect around the country that may have been necessary when they were adopted, yet have long-since served their purpose. Here are a few of those laws:
- An old statute in Kentucky states that men who push their wives out of bed for inflicting their cold toes on them, can be fined or jailed for a week.
- In the 6th Century, it was customary to congratulate people who sneezed because it was thought that they were expelling evil from their bodies. During the great plague of Europe, the Pope passed a law to say “God bless you” to one who sneezed.
- It’s against the law to boast that one’s parents are rich in Washington state.
- Playing Randy Newman’s “Short People” on the radio is illegal in Maryland.
- In the state of Alabama, it is illegal to play Dominoes on Sunday.
- A 100-year-old law in Willowdale, Oregon makes it illegal to swear during sex.
- An odd law in Minnesota makes it illegal to hang male and female underwear on the same washing line, and in Minneapolis, double-parkers can be put on a chain gang.
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