On July 1, 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Ohio’s budget legislation including provisions legalizing electronic instant bingo in Ohio. Veterans and fraternal organizations in the State can offer this electronic equivalent of paper pull-tabs, or instant bingo. The Attorney General has primary jurisdiction over this new form of charitable gaming and will begin to accept applications for license to conduct electronic instant bingo on January 1, 2022. The Attorney General will issue licenses on April 1, 2022. Up to ten (10) single-person terminals can be in use in any one location. In order to be eligible, a veterans and fraternal organization must, in part, not conduct a raffle using an electronic raffle machine at any time on or after January 1, 2022. A complete copy of HB110 can accessed here.
The new law modernizes charitable gaming in Ohio. For example, in 2018, Ohio charities brought in $102 million through Type I, II, and III bingo. Type 1 bingo is the traditional game with a caller announcing numbers where paper sheets are used to track and determine winners at the luck of the draw. Next, Type II bingo covers the sale of instant bingo in conjunction with the traditional bingo game. Finally, Type III bingo is instant bingo being conducted outside of the traditional game (i.e. pull-tabs).
Now, these groups will offer instant bingo in an electronic format. Veterans and fraternal organizations will distribute the proceeds in the same manner as instant bingo proceeds are distributed under continuing law. Indeed, these electronic instant bingo proceeds help fund programs for veterans, families in need, local youth sports organizations, school music departments, and much more. In updating their bingo statute, Ohio joins five (5) other states on the cutting-edge of modern charitable gaming.
In connection with this electronic instant bingo legislation, Crabbe, Brown & James has represented the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition (OVFCC) in its legal efforts to modernize instant bingo in Ohio over the course of almost ten (10) years. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been in place since December 2013. The TRO allows the veterans and fraternal organizations to continue to raise money for critical charitable causes. The matter has been on appeal before the Ohio Supreme Court since January 2019 while the legislation fashioned.