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Attorney Ross Curnow | Hopkins & Huebner, P.C.Social & Charitable Gambling for Iowa's Nonprofits

Ross Curnow | Hopkins & Huebner, P.C. | Des Moines Office

Iowa’s nonprofits are truly remarkable.  They create and manage animal shelters, host food banks and support cancer awareness and treatment. These are just a handful of the multitude of charitable and educational purposes served.  In order to maintain their function though, every nonprofit requires a steady source of funding.

Beyond standard charitable donations, nonprofits also raise funds by sponsoring fun outings and events like auctions, golf tournaments and marathons.  Along with the fundraising, events like these provide a great opportunity to generate awareness and continued involvement with a nonprofit.

How to Host a Charitable Gambling Event

Another good option for fundraising is hosting charitable gambling events.  Charitable gambling events such as game nights or raffles provides participants the opportunity to enjoy the excitement of a casino experience with the knowledge that the wagered proceeds ultimately go to a good cause.       

Before a nonprofit can host a charitable gambling event, it has to complete a licensing process.  Conducting a charitable gambling event without the appropriate licensing can result in civil and criminal liability for the nonprofit and its members.

Licensing for Charitable Gambling Events

The first step for a nonprofit looking to conduct a charitable gambling event is to contact the Social and Charitable Gambling Unit (“SCGU”) of the Department of Inspections and Appeals.  It’s important that the nonprofit plan ahead, as a license application must be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the anticipated date of the charitable gambling event.

The type of license to apply for depends on the period of time for which the nonprofit intends to conduct the gambling activity.  If the nonprofit only wants to host a single casino night, it need only apply for a simple 14-day qualified organization license.  However, if the nonprofit wants to host additional activities like raffles and bingo, it would be best served to apply for a longer license period.  Having a longer term license affords a nonprofit the flexibility to host several different charitable gambling events throughout the term of its license period, which in turn creates more opportunities to fund and promote the nonprofit itself.

How a Racing and Gaming Attorney Can Help

At first glance, the licensing process may appear daunting, but the juice is certainly worth the squeeze as the nonprofit shields itself from liability while gaining a fun and new fundraising opportunity.  If your nonprofit is interested in conducting charitable gambling fundraising, consulting an experienced gaming attorney can make all the difference.