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From the 50/50 raffles at Colorado Rockies games to bingo at the Elks Lodge, raffles and bingo brought in more than $121 million for Colorado charities in 2021.

But nonprofit employees can’t be paid for their time spent working to call a bingo game or sell raffle tickets. And a nonprofit must exist for five years before it can qualify to run such games. The Secretary of State’s Office regulates the charitable games and the organizations that run them.

That’s because the Colorado constitution tightly governs charitable bingo and raffles through a 1958 provision. 

Advocates for such games are seeking to modernize that provision and give the legislature more regulatory control over bingo games and raffles. The effort comes after several years of declining licenses and revenues.

What Amendment F would do

The measure would change the Colorado constitution to loosen requirements on nonprofits that run bingo games or raffles for charities. It would allow nonprofits, the only organizations authorized to run pay-to-play bingo games and raffles with significant prizes, to qualify for a license after three years instead of five. And in 2025, the legislature could change that regulation.

It also would allow bingo and raffle workers to be paid up to the minimum wage, with the minimum-wage restriction being repealed July 1, 2024. There would be no mandate, however, that raffle or bingo workers be paid.

Arguments for Amendment F

The current prohibition on paying nonprofit employees to operate bingo games or raffles means charitable groups must either depend on volunteers or hire outside groups to manage such wagering. Dropping the prohibition, supporters of Amendment F hope, would make it easier for them to find people to run the games.

Lowering the number of years for a nonprofit to be established could mean more organizations participate in charitable raffles or bingo, meaning they would be able to secure more revenue for their missions.

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“All of the money stays in Colorado and it goes to do lots of good things,” said Corky Kyle, executive vice president for the Colorado Charitable Bingo Association. “We’re between a rock and a hard spot and we need this to happen.”

Arguments against Amendment F

Relaxing the rules would allow groups to host games of chance before they have established “a reputation for integrity and legitimacy,” the Independence Institute said in recommending a “no” vote on the measure. 

The Libertarian group’s voter guide also says “the whole matter seems like an oddly specific thing to be dealt with in the state constitution in the first place.” 

One thing you should know

Constitutional measures must receive at least 55% of the vote to be enacted. A similar measure in 2020 received only 52.4%.

The money

The Charitable Gaming Issue Committee, run by Kyle, hasn’t reported raising or spending any money, and no group is registered to oppose Amendment F.

Sandra Fish

Special to The Colorado Sun Twitter: @fishnette