Games are fun and easy ways for bars and taprooms to keep customers entertained and keep them ordering. But in Florida, handling a game in the wrong way could result in civil fines or criminal charges.
Don’t Call It Bingo
In Florida, “bingo” has a specific statutory meaning. “Bingo” involves participants paying a sum of money for the use of one or more bingo cards, with the hopes of winning cash or other prizes by completing a sequence of randomly drawn numbers. True bingo games can only be legally operated in Florida by a charitable, non-profit of veterans’ organization. Any other type of organization that conducts a bingo game–including bars and taprooms–commits a first degree misdemeanor or third degree felony.
In actuality, the games that bars and taprooms promote are more often than not true bingo games. Instead, they are generally called game promotions. Game promotions include any contest, game of chance, sweepstakes, or gift enterprise, conducted in connection with and incidental to the sale of consumer products or services, in which the elements of chance and prize are present. While Florida bars and taprooms are permitted to conduct game promotions, there are subject to specific laws.
How to Conduct a Legal Game Promotion in Florida
To comply with Florida law, game promotions must meet the following requirements:
- There must be no required entry fee, payment or proof of purchase to participate.
- If total prizes are valued at over $5,000, then notice must be filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at least 7 days prior to the game.
- An accurate summary of the rules of the game must be included in all advertisements.
- The full rules of the game must be conspicuously posted at the game site.Winners cannot be predetermined.
- Entries cannot be arbitrarily removed, disqualified, or rejected.
- All announced prizes must be awarded.
A violation of Florida’s game promotion laws can result in a civil penalty of up to $1,000, criminal charge of second degree misdemeanor, or violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
More information about Florida’s rules for game promotions is available from the Florida Division of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Do you have questions about game promotions in Florida? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a 15-minute introductory call at no charge.
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