Charitable Gaming Press Kit

About the Charitable Gaming Division

The Nebraska Legislature has enacted laws to provide Nebraska nonprofit organizations and local municipalities a means to raise funds for charitable and community betterment purposes through the conduct of certain gaming activities. The charitable gaming activities authorized for nonprofit organizations are bingo, the sale of pickle cards (pull-tabs), and ticket drawings for either cash prizes (lotteries) or merchandise prizes (raffles). In addition, counties, cities, and villages are authorized to conduct keno lotteries.

Since 1986, the Nebraska Department of Revenue Charitable Gaming Division has been responsible for the licensing and regulation of those interested in conducting charitable gaming activities, for overseeing the proper conduct of games, and for ensuring the profits are used in a lawful manner. The Charitable Gaming Division is self-supported through a portion of licensing fees and the various gaming taxes imposed by the Legislature. No state general funds are used to regulate charitable gaming.

Charitable Gaming Activities

Only qualifying nonprofit organizations who have obtained the proper licenses or permits are allowed to conduct bingo, sell pickle cards, or hold a lottery or raffle. Only counties, cities, and villages whose citizens have approved a keno lottery in an election can be licensed to conduct keno. Businesses which hold a retail liquor license may be licensed to sell pickle cards on behalf of nonprofit organizations. Local businesses may be licensed as sales outlet locations for keno, if approved by the sponsoring county, city, or village.

Help for compulsive gambling is available through the Compulsive Gambling Help Line: 833-BetOver (238-6837) or on line at

County/City Lottery (Keno)

In 1977, Nebraska became the first state to authorize “local option lotteries” to be conducted by counties, cities, and villages for the purpose of raising funds for community betterment purposes. Although other forms of local option lotteries (such as ticket drawings, video poker, and even scratch-offs) have come and gone with law changes over the years, keno has been the most enduring form of local option lottery and now represents roughly 92% of the total charitable gaming dollars wagered in our state. It is said that the game of keno was brought to the United States in the mid-to-late 1800s by Chinese immigrants who came to work on the railroads or in the gold and silver mines. The game was referred to then as the Chinese Lottery. The first keno game in Nebraska was operated by the City of Bellevue and was a manual game. Today, there are over 172 counties, cities, and villages which are licensed to conduct a keno lottery. Computerized keno systems are now required to be used, and businesses which operate keno on behalf of a county, city, or village are required to be licensed as lottery operators or sales outlet locations. Manufacturer-Distributors of computerized keno systems and related equipment are also licensed, and the systems and equipment are tested and approved by the Charitable Gaming Division. You must be at least 19 years of age to play keno or to work at a keno lottery. Any individual who intends to perform any work directly related to the conduct of a county/city lottery, except for individuals whose sole responsibilities are that of a keno writer, must also be licensed.


Bingo has been a legal form of charitable gaming in Nebraska since 1958. Bingo can be found in almost every county in Nebraska, from church basements to fraternal clubs, and town celebrations to commercial bingo halls. But regardless of the town or the size of the crowd, any time (a) a charge is required in order to play bingo, or (b) a prize with a value of over $25 is awarded, a bingo license or permit is required. Depending on how often bingo is played, and how much revenue is generated on a yearly basis, different classes of licenses and permits are available. Certain individuals involved in conducting bingo, like the gaming manager and utilization of funds member, must obtain licenses. Manufacturers and distributors of bingo equipment are also required to be licensed. In general, you must be 18 years of age to play or help conduct bingo.

Pickle Cards

“Pickle cards” are better known as “pull-tabs” to the rest of the world. The unique Nebraska origin of the term “pickle card” comes from the days when they were sold illegally in taverns and bars across Nebraska. The cards were kept in large empty “pickle jars” which could easily be skirted out of sight. Today, pickle cards are sold legally by hundreds of licensed nonprofit organizations at their bingo games, club facilities, and on behalf of licensed organizations through convenience stores, bars, and restaurants licensed as “pickle card operators.” An individual called a “sales agent,” who represents the licensed organization and who must also obtain a license, sells and delivers pickle cards to the pickle card operators. Pickle cards are often still sold over the counter, but more frequently and conveniently, they are sold through vending machines called pickle card dispensing devices. The manufacturers and distributors of these games are licensed, and the Charitable Gaming Division approves each kind of pickle card sold. As with bingo, you must be 18 years of age to play or sell pickle cards.

Community Betterment

Charitable gaming proceeds benefit people across Nebraska. In fiscal year 2019-2020, $20.8 million in proceeds were reported to the Charitable Gaming Division as available for community betterment. Examples of community betterment projects include:

  • Otoe County – Grant to Syracuse Rebels youth tackle football teams
  • City of Tekamah – New food pantry remodel
  • Village of Kennard – Ambulance purchase for Kennard Fire Department
  • City of Lincoln – City libraries and property tax relief
  • Village of Unadilla – New gym lights
  • City of Papillion – 150th Anniversary Celebration
  • Village of Oxford – Southern Valley FFA and post prom
  • City of Pierce – New bleachers for baseball/softball complex
  • Village of Eagle – Swimming pool slide
  • City of Gretna – Peterson Park picnic shelter

Permitted uses of charitable gaming funds are specifically defined in the regulations for each charitable gaming activity.

County/City Lottery (Keno)

Lotteries and Raffles


Pickle Cards

10-Year Comparison of Gaming Dollars Wagered


FYE 6/2011

FYE 6/2012

FYE 6/2013

FYE 6/2014

FYE 6/2015







Pickle Cards












Lottery and Raffle













FYE 6/2016

FYE 6/2017

FYE 6/2018

FYE 6/2019

FYE 6/2020







Pickle Cards
























The links in the above table refer to the Charitable Gaming Annual Report for that fiscal year. Click here for a listing of available Annual Reports.

Chronology of State and Local Bingo Taxes

Effective Date


Tax Rateon Gross Receipts


Regulatory Authority



-Local county, city, or village tax*
-County, city, or village transmits 5% of the 10% collected to the State Treasurer for deposit in General Fund





-Local county, city, or village tax*
-Local county, city, or village tax*


Tax Commissioner



-Additional county tax on all games operated in county
-No state tax


State Treasurer's office



-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax*


Bingo and Pickle Card Commission



-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax*


Dept of Revenue, Charitable Gaming Division



-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax*




-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax*




-State tax
-Local county, city, or village tax eliminated*


*If bingo game operated within city or village limits, city or village receives tax. If operated outside city or village limits, county receives tax.

Chronology of the State Pickle Card Tax

Effective Date


Tax Rate

Regulatory Authority



2%of Gross Proceeds plus $2 per unit

Bingo and Pickle Card Commission



2% of Gross Proceeds

Dept of Revenue, Charitable Gaming Division



3% of Gross Proceeds



20% of Definite Profit*



13% of Definite Profit*



10% of Definite Profit*

* Definite Profit means the gross proceeds less prizes

Historical Perspective - County/City Lottery (Keno)

  • 1968 - constitutional amendment which authorized lotteries, raffles, and gift enterprises intended solely as business promotions or the proceeds of which are to be used solely for charitable or community betterment purposes.
  • Laws 1977, LB38 - authorized a county, city, or village to establish and conduct a lottery for community betterment purposes provided such lottery had been approved by a majority of the registered voters of such county, city, or village. (Section 28-1116)
  • Laws 1983, LB259 - added language relative to the allocation of the gross proceeds of the lottery (65 percent for the awarding of prizes, ten percent limitation on expenses); imposed requirement that each ticket identify the name of the county, city, or village sponsoring the lottery activity and be sequentially-numbered; established record keeping requirements (Section 28-1116.01); imposed two percent tax on gross proceeds of lottery to be credited to General Fund (Section 9-196.01)
  • Laws 1984, LB744 - prohibited any lottery conducted by a county, city, or village which used any mechanical gaming device, computer gaming device, electronic gaming device, or video gaming device. Required any existing lotteries as of April 4, 1984 to be discontinued effective January 1, 1985. (Section 28-1116.02)
  • Laws 1984, LB949 - amended Section 28-1116 to grant regulatory authority to the Department of Revenue.
  • November, 1985 - City of Bellevue implemented the initial keno lottery.
  • Laws 1986, LB1027 - enacted the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act (Sections 9-601 through 9-612). Charitable Gaming Division created with responsibility to regulate bingo, pickle card, and lottery/raffle activities conducted by nonprofit organizations and lotteries conducted by counties, cities, and villages.
  • Laws 1989, LB767 - enacted most of the regulatory structure that exists today including the definition of lottery which restricted the forms of lottery to ticket drawings, scratch-off tickets, or keno.
  • Laws 1991, LB427 - several technical changes proposed by the Charitable Gaming Division.
  • Laws 1991, LB795 - permitted Lincoln, Omaha, or Douglas County to buy and maintain a professional baseball team with profits from the conduct of a county/city lottery; provided that if a horse racetrack is located in the county in which either the county or any city or village conducts a lottery, then two percent of the gross proceeds from the lottery must be credited to the Thoroughbred Racing Assistance Fund to supplement purses for live thoroughbred racing and to award Nebraska bred horses; and prohibited the use of “Instant Keno” devices
  • Laws 1991, LB849 - eliminated scratch-off tickets as an authorized form of lottery for counties, cities, and villages.
  • Laws 1993, LB563 - imposed additional regulatory requirements regarding the licensing of sales outlet locations and lottery workers; prohibited the extension of credit on wagering.
  • Laws 1994, LB694 - added definition of audit and legal expenses and established limitation on use of gross proceeds for such expenses - Section 9-629(4).
  • Laws 1995, LB344 - authorized the conduct of a lottery within a licensed racetrack enclosure which abuts the corporate limits of a county, city, or village or which is within the zoning jurisdiction of a city; repealed Thoroughbred Racing Assistance Fund contribution.
  • Laws 2002, LB545 - changed provisions relating to the licensing of lottery workers; changed from four to ten years the number of consecutive years a lottery game may be inactive before another election is required.
  • Laws 2010, LB861 - amended § 9-647 of the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act to permit keno to be played after 1:00 a.m. if a local municipality votes to extend the serving of alcohol until 2:00 a.m. within its jurisdiction pursuant to a vote under § 53-179 of the Nebraska Liquor Control Act.
  • Laws 2011, LB490 - amended the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act to allow players to access keno equipment for purposes of selecting numbers before the start of a game.
  • Laws 2014, LB259 - amended the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act to eliminate the licensing requirement for individuals whose sole responsibilities consist of being a keno writer.
  • Laws 2018, LB 724 – amended the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act to allow sales outlets to commingle cash receipts from the sale of keno with other cash receipts subject to Department authorization; authorized electronic funds transfers; and clarified keno funds must be deposited into lottery operator or county, city, or village bank account no later than five business days following the day the funds were collected.
Back to Top