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Texan Charitable Gaming

In November 1980, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment that authorized the operation of charitable bingo. On 14 August 1981, the Bingo Act was enacted by the legislature and became effective on 10 November 1981. The Bingo Act gave local municipalities the ability to authorize bingo in their area. Proceeds were to be used for charitable purposes. The first bingo licenses were issued in spring 1982. The Charitable Bingo division was responsible for control and supervision of bingo operations.

In the early days, the Charitable Bingo division was a separate entity at the Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA). In January 1990, it was transferred from the CPA to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) before finding a permanent location in April 1994, when it was transferred to the Texas Lottery Commission (TLC).

A nine-member Bingo Advisory Committee (BAC) assists the TLC. Appointments to the BAC must represent a balance of interests in the Texas charitable bingo industry. The first BAC member was appointed on 25 March 1995.

In 1984, the TLC added instant bingo, or pull-tabs, as an officially authorized charitable game.

In 1987, the state added a 2% state gross receipts tax, on top of the local option tax of 2% gross receipts already in place; set the prize limit for instant bingo at $1,500; and prohibited door prizes and the advertising of prizes to the public.

In a special session of the Texas Legislature, the state gross receipts tax was increased from 2% to 5% and a 3% prize fee on prize winners was added, as was a 3% gross rental tax for commercial lessors.

The state repealed both the state and local gross receipts tax in 1993. It also increased the winner prize fee from 3% to 5% and abolished the $1,500 prize limit on instant bingo.

On 1 September 1995, HB3021, adopted earlier by lawmakers, went into effect. This bill brought a host of new to changes to the Bingo Act. It reduced the 10-year requirement of religious societies to exist within Texas to eight years; provided for electronic or mechanical card-minding devices and pull-tab or instant bingo dispensers; allowed using a pull-tab to play bingo; limited card-minding devices offered for sale to 30% of sales at one event; limited pull-tabs price to $1 and limited the number of pull-tab dispensers to five at one bingo location; provided for the issuance of a temporary license after specific conditions were met; repealed the $500 limit on prizes in a single game, but retained the $2,500 limit per event; reduced the minimum intermission between games from 30 to 10 minutes; created a System Service Provider license class to provision automated bingo services to organizations; and changed the four-hour bingo playing limit from a 24-hour period, to each event.

More changes were adopted in 1997. Among the more significant changes, the single-game prize limit was raised to $750 and raffles during a bingo event were now permitted, as were door prizes with a maximum value of $250.

On 27 May 2004, the TLC changed the date that the Bingo Advisory Committee (BAC) would cease to exist from 6 March 2004, to 31 August 2005, unless the TLC voted to continue it.

On 10 August 2011, TLC commissioners did not take action to continue the BAC.

On 19 June 2009, Governor Rick Perry signed HB1474 into law, with extensive revisions to the operation and regulation of charitable bingo; it became effective on 1 October 2009.

In 2011, new legislation was adopted relating to the use of bingo proceeds by licensed organizations to provide health insurance benefits to certain organization employees, such as bingo chairpersons, operators, managers, salespersons, callers, cashiers, and ushers. The value of the health insurance benefits provided could not exceed 50% of the total premium owed.
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