The Pennsylvania Crimes Code provides that all forms of gambling are illegal unless the Pennsylvania legislature specifically authorizes the gambling activity by statute.
Gambling exists when there is a payment of consideration or a fee or something of value for the opportunity for a prize or reward, the winner of which is determined by chance. Effectively, the three elements are: (1) consideration, (2) chance and (3) prize or reward.
Legal Forms of Gambling
Currently, the only authorized and legal forms of gambling in Pennsylvania are:
- Those gambling activities conducted pursuant to the Race Horse Industry Reform Act
- Those gambling activities conducted pursuant to the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act
- Pennsylvania Lottery
- Bingo conducted pursuant to the Bingo Law
- Those gambling activities conducted pursuant to the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act
- Those gambling activities conducted pursuant to the Sport Raffle Charities Act
The Bingo Law
The Bingo Law was passed in 1981 by the General Assembly, and requires that all phases of licensing, operation and regulation of the game of bingo be strictly controlled and that all laws and regulations with respect thereto as well as all gambling laws should be strictly construed and rigidly enforced.
Associations Authorized to Conduct Bingo
The Bingo Law authorizes certain associations to conduct games of bingo. An Association is defined as a volunteer fire company or an ambulance, religious, charitable, fraternal, veterans, civic, county fair or agricultural association, or any separately chartered auxiliary of any of the above associations, organized as a nonprofit organization which shall have existed, and conducted business in furtherance of their written constitution, charter, articles of incorporation or bylaw express purpose, for 2 years prior to application for a license.
An association whose membership consists exclusively of elderly residents of a senior citizen housing project may apply for a license immediately upon its being organized as such and not meet the 2-year waiting requirement.
The Treasurer's office shall license, upon application, any association as defined in the Bingo Law, to conduct the game of bingo at one location in the county, which, shall only be in the city, borough or township where the main business office or headquarters of the associations is located.
Types of Licenses
There are 5 types of licenses available to eligible associations:
- A regular license
- 3 Consecutive Day license
- Agricultural Association or County Fair license
- Entertainment license
- Senior Citizens' Group license
Regular: A regular license is an annual license that allows the paying of Bingo no more than twice a week throughout the license year. The fee for an annual regular license is $100.
3 Consecutive Day: A license to conduct bingo only 1 period each year for not more than 3 consecutive days. The fee for the 3 Consecutive Day License is $15.
Agricultural Association or County Fair: A license to conduct bingo at an exposition, carnival or fair for a period not exceeding 10 days. The fee for an Agricultural Association or County Fair license is $100.
Entertainment Only: A special permit to conduct bingo for entertainment purposes only. There is no fee for an Entertainment Only License.
Senior Citizens' Group: A license for senior citizen groups who conduct bingo for their members only. The fee for a Senior Citizen's Group License is $50.
Note: No Debit cards or Credit cards will be accepted for payment. Only Check, Cash, or Money Order is allowed!
For additional assistance, please email the Licensing Coordinator, Lisa Norton, or call her at 717-771-9224.
For law violations or non-compliance issues, contact Detective Paul Pelaia with the District Attorney's Office at 717-771-9600 ext. 3094.