Roswell, GA asked in Entertainment / Sports and Gaming for Georgia

Q: I frequent a pub where they feature music bingo.

For the final round, everyone pays $5 per bingo card. The first person to fill their entire card wins the pot, sometimes it's over $1000. Is this completely legal and is there anything to watch out for?

2 Lawyer Answers
Giselle Ayala Mateus
Giselle Ayala Mateus pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Entertainment & Sports Law Lawyer
  • New York, NY

A: Whether a bingo game where players pay for cards and win a cash prize is legal depends on the jurisdiction. Here are some general considerations to keep in mind:

1. Legal Framework

- Gambling Laws: Many regions have specific laws regulating gambling, which include games like bingo. These laws vary widely from one place to another.

- Licensing: Some places require a license to run bingo games where money is involved. Ensure that the pub has the appropriate licenses.

2. Type of Bingo

- Charitable Bingo: In some areas, bingo is only legal if it is run by a charitable organization, with proceeds going to charity.

- Commercial Bingo: In other areas, commercial establishments can run bingo games as long as they follow certain regulations.

3. Prizes and Payouts

- Prize Limits: Some jurisdictions have limits on the maximum prize that can be offered without a special license.

- Reporting: Large cash prizes might need to be reported for tax purposes, both by the organizer and the winner.

4. Age Restrictions

- Minimum Age: There might be age restrictions for participants, typically aligned with the legal age for gambling in the region.

5. Local Ordinances

- Municipal Regulations: Some cities or counties have their own rules regarding bingo games, which can be stricter than state or federal regulations.

6. Operational Practices

- Transparency: Ensuring the game is run fairly and transparently is crucial. There should be clear rules, and the game should be free of any manipulation.

- Advertising: Be careful with how the bingo games are advertised, as there might be regulations on promoting gambling activities.


1. Check Local Laws: Consult the specific gambling laws and regulations in your region. This could involve checking with a local attorney or the relevant gaming authority.

2. Verify Licensing: Make sure the pub has the necessary licenses to conduct bingo games.

3. Understand the Rules: Familiarize yourself with any prize limits and tax implications for large winnings.

In summary, while bingo games are common and often legally conducted in many places, compliance with local gambling laws and regulations is essential to ensure legality.

JJ Poole
JJ Poole pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Entertainment & Sports Law Lawyer
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: It depends. Under Georgia law, most bingo games require licensing, however, recreational bingo is a nonprofit bingo game or a bingo game operated by an employer with ten or more full-time employees for the purpose of providing a safe workplace incentive and is not subject to the licensing requirements and regulations applicable to bingo games not considered recreational bingo and operated by nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations. In this case, based on your question, sounds like this organization is not profiting from the "pot" and thus may have an argument for recreational bingo if they meet all of the other requirements provided by the statute. If so, this would in fact be legal in Georgia. The question however, begs for a deeper inquiry as to the organization and the participants. Hope this helps!

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