In order for an organization to play regular, licensed bingo, Kuczynski said, it would have to apply for a bingo ID number from the commission. If that is approved, the group could then go to the City Clerk’s Office to apply for a bingo license.
If that license were approved, the group would then have to pay the City of Plattsburgh $18.75 for each occasion of bingo applied for, as well as 3 percent of net profits from each bingo date.
Free bingo, on the other hand, may be conducted without a license, Kuczynski said; however, players must not pay to participate.
“It’s a free bingo game, where the players don’t pay bingo admission; they don’t pay a fee for their cards or the bingo paper to play.
“Once you start paying money to play, then you’ve got chance involved, and you’ve got prizes being awarded, then that brings you into the world of the penal law, and there are statutes regarding gambling,” Kuczynski said.
Nominal prizes can be awarded in free bingo but must not exceed $10 in value per game or $150 in value per day.
In addition, Kuczynski noted, “you can only conduct this kind of bingo 15 times a year.”
CHANGED IN 2008
The former Racing and Wagering Board, which combined with the State Lottery to form the Gaming Commission, used to issue senior citizens bingo certificates, he explained, and general municipal law allowed senior organizations to obtain certificates to play bingo with no license or fees.
However, in 2008, the State Legislature enacted the free-bingo statue, which replaced such certificates, according to Kuczynski.
“But even back then, under the old program of senior citizens bingo, that bingo under the law was for recreational and amusement purposes, as well, and it also prohibited players from paying anything,” he said.