The Charitable Gaming Unit serves the citizens of Rhode Island and to protect their interests in any matter pertaining to gambling for charitable purpose. Rhode Island General Law gives authority to the Rhode Island State Police to regulate charitable gaming.
R.I.G.L. § 11-19-1 Forms of gambling prohibited - "Every person who shall, directly or indirectly, set up, put forth, carry on, promote, or draw, publicly or privately, any lottery, chance, game, or device of any nature or kind whatsoever, or by whatsoever name it may be called, for the purpose of exposing, setting for sale or disposing of any money, houses, lands, merchandise, or articles of value, or shall sell or expose to sale lottery policies, purporting to be governed by the drawing of any public or private lottery, or shall sign or endorse any book, document, or paper whatsoever, for the purpose of enabling others to sell, or expose to sale, lottery policies, except as authorized in this chapter and in title 41 and chapters 61 and 61.2 of title 42, shall be deemed guilty of a felony and shall be imprisoned not exceeding two (2) years or be fined not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000)."
R.I.G.L. § 11-19-41 Police regulation of bingo and permitted games of chance - "The division of state police shall have the power and authority to license, regulate, supervise and exercise general control over the operation of bingo and permitted games of chance including, but not limited to, the conduct of permitted games of chance, the distribution of prizes, and the use and licensing of equipment specifically designed to be utilized to conduct bingo and permitted games of chance, as well as the licensing of persons, firms, corporations in the business of the sale and rental of equipment concerning bingo and permitted games of chance. The Rhode Island state police shall have the power and authority to investigate as to the direct or indirect ownership or control of any licenses and to revoke or suspend any license for just cause after a hearing."
Enforcement of the charitable gaming statute provides citizens protection from fraud, and misrepresentation. The unit also assists citizens with the process of applying for authorization to hold charitable gaming activity and answers questions from the general public, the law enforcement community and local governments regarding same. The Charitable Gaming Unit is overseen by the Assistant Detective Commander.
The Rhode Island General Assembly charged the Division of State Police with the regulatory enforcement of all charitable gaming except bingo in 1979. This included raffles, Las Vegas nights, poker nights, week club raffles and bazaars. This authority was transferred from the Rhode Island Lottery Commission. In 1982 a statewide grand jury was convened to investigate the many abuses of the bingo law that were taking place at the time. That investigation elicited a number of criminal indictments and a Grand Jury report making recommendations to the Legislature to add bingo to the other games of chance that were regulated by the State Police. In 1983 that legislation was passed. The reason for shifting regulatory authority to the State Police was that the lottery commission lacked the enforcement powers to properly supervise and regulate gaming activities. This new law in 1983 completed the transfer of regulatory authority for charitable gaming to the State Police. In 1993, the General Assembly amended the charitable gaming statute by removing Las Vegas nights and all Las Vegas type activity from the law, leaving only raffles, bazaars, and bingo as charitable gaming activities for the citizens of Rhode Island.
A game of chance is defined as any game wherein the element of chance predominates over the element of skill in the possibility of winning a prize, with pecuniary consideration being involved to participate. The elements of a game of chance are: chance, a prize, and consideration (or money) i.e. something put up.
The game must be conducted by a charitable organization. Only members of the organization can be involved in the control and management of the game. All proceeds, minus the expenses of the game, must be used for a charitable purpose. No one under the age of 18 is allowed to participate.
For your convenience this web page contains rules and regulations governing bingo, rules and regulations governing games of chance, and applications for raffles and bingo. For assistance or for more information, please contact the Charitable Gaming Unit.
Phone: (401) 444-1147
Fax: (401) 444-1097
An application fee of five dollars ($5.00) in the form of a check or money order made payable to the Rhode Island State Police is required with each application for raffles or bingos. Cash is not accepted.
If your organization wishes to conduct bingo, you may obtain a bingo application from this web page or at any State Police barracks.
After you complete the bingo application, submit it with the $5.00 application fee in the form of a check or money order (cash is not accepted) to the Rhode Island State Police Charitable Gaming Unit at the address on the application. The State Police will conduct records checks on the applicants and review the application to see if it meets the criteria outlined in the Rhode Island General Laws. It is the applicant's responsibility to contact their local licensing authority upon approval to see if a separate event license is required. When the application is approved, a letter will be sent to the applicant, with a copy being sent to the Chief of Police in the city/town where the bingo will be held. A financial report will be included with the letter of approval. This financial report must be completed and returned to the Rhode Island State Police Charitable Gaming Unit, as outlined in the letter of authorization. No further authorizations will be approved until all required documents are received.
If your organization wishes to conduct a raffle, you may obtain the raffle application from your local police department or from this web page. After you complete the application, submit it along with the $5.00 application fee in the form of a check or money order (cash is not accepted) to the Chief of Police in the city/town where the drawing will be held (with the exception of Providence, where it must first be submitted to the Providence City Hall Licensing Department). The Chief of Police will conduct records checks on the applicants and sign the application indicating his/her approval or disapproval of your request. The application will then be forwarded to the Rhode Island State Police Charitable Gaming Unit. Your application will be reviewed here to see if it meets the criteria outlined in the Rhode Island General Law. When the application is approved, a letter will be sent to the applicant, with a copy being sent to the Chief of Police in the city/town where the drawing will be held. You may sell the tickets anywhere, but you must hold the drawing in the location indicated on your application. A financial report will be included with the letter of approval. This financial report must be completed and returned to the Rhode Island State Police Charitable Gaming Unit within sixty (60) days after the drawing. No further authorizations will be approved until we receive your financial report.
Note: All applications must be filled out completely and submitted with a $5.00 application fee in the form of check or money order. Checks should be made payable to "Rhode Island State Police."
Senior Citizen's Bingo Application for Senior Citizen Bingos, with prizes not to exceed $400.00 (Form SP-4)
Special (One Time) Bingos Application, with prizes not to exceed $300.00 (Form SP-4.1)
Weekly Bingos Application, with prizes exceeding $400.00 (Form SP-1)