Bingo and Breakopen

Bingo is a lottery in which a prize or prizes are awarded by selling one or more bingo cards or papers to a number of players, then randomly calling numbers that may appear on the bingo cards or papers. Players attempt to complete a predetermined pattern on the bingo cards or papers using the numbers called. The first player(s) to declare they have correctly completed the pattern will, upon verification, be the winner(s).

Breakopen is a lottery in which a specific set of prizes is awarded by selling a pre-determined number of covered tickets. The winner(s) is determined by the combination of symbols that show when the covering is removed.

Bingo and breakopen standard rules of play

Bingo and breakopen application guide

Bingo and breakopen application

  • Six week processing time

Bingo and breakopen terms and conditions


Please click below for answers to some common questions about bingo and breakopen. You can also email our Gaming Licence Department or contact us at 204-954-9400 or toll-free at 1-800-782-0363.

Who can hold a bingo or breakopen?

The LGA licenses charitable and religious organizations to conduct bingos and breakopens in accordance with Section 207(1)(b) of the Criminal Code (Canada). If your organization has never been licensed, you must submit background information about your organization to determine your eligibility.

We hold a penny bingo at our seniors’ residence; do we need a licence?

Yes, regardless of the selling price of the cards, the prize or the anticipated revenue, all bingos must be licensed

Do 50/50 draws need to be licensed at a bingo?

Yes, an organization must obtain a licence for any raffle held in conjunction with a bingo. Please click here for more information about raffle licences.

How can our organization volunteer at the bingo events held at the Casinos of Winnipeg?

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries operates the Casinos of Winnipeg. Please click here (opens in new window) to be redirected to Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries’ information about volunteering at casino bingo events.

When is a licence not required for a bingo?

A licence is not required if an organization is conducting a ‘free fun bingo’. This means that there must be no charge or consideration to play the game, and participants must not be required to make a donation or pay an entry fee to an event in order to play bingo. The bingo must be open to anyone wishing to participate.

How long does it take to get a bingo and breakopen licence?

The LGA requires up to six weeks to process applications. It may take longer to process your application if it is incomplete or inaccurate. The application guide will help you properly complete and submit your application to us. You cannot advertise your bingo or breakopen until your licence is approved.

What does a bingo/breakopen licence cost?

Licence fees are based on actual gross revenue. Organizations are required to submit a licence fee of 1.5% of the actual gross revenue of the bingo/breakopen event. The LGA sets reporting requirements at the time your licence is issued, but fees are due after the event with your financial reports.

How do we apply for a bingo/breakopen licence?

Please complete our Bingo/breakopen Application.You can also call our Gaming Licence Department at 204-954-9400 or toll-free at 1-800-782-0363 for a paper copy of the application or to arrange a time to complete the form in person at one of our offices.

Please read and ensure you understand the Bingo/Breakopen Terms and Conditions before you apply for a licence. You must comply with these terms and conditions once you are licensed.


Which bingo application do we complete?

The LGA issues licences for bingo and media bingo. You should complete a bingo/breakopen application if your event will be played in a facility or hall. You should complete a media bingo application if your event will be played using mass media communication, including, but not limited to, radio, newspaper, magazine or television.

What do we need to submit with our application?

In order to determine an organization’s eligibility for a licence, first-time applicants and organizations not licensed in over three years must provide as many of the following documents as possible:

  • charter
  • constitution and by-laws
  • articles of incorporation and most recent corporate annual return
  • minutes of most recent annual general meeting
  • membership list
  • most recent financial statement and bank statements

Other requirements are clearly listed in the application guide and include such things as the bingo program, house rules and a current bank statement or prize guarantee.

Our organization is very small and we do not have the background documents you ask for. Can we still get a licence?

Yes, provided your organization is a charitable or religious organization. We recognize that many smaller organizations may not have formal documentation. In these cases, minutes from meetings and/or letters of support from principals, councillors, priests or mayors may be acceptable. These letters of support should state:

  • that the group is in fact a bona fide organization
  • the organization’s aims and objectives
  • the reasons/need for fundraising

What if we don’t have a president, vice-president, secretary or treasurer?

If the titles of your executive members are not consistent with the generic titles on the form, please indicate your organization’s actual titles on your application. Organizations must adapt their titles to those on the form in a best-fit manner where necessary (e.g. Grand Knight, Head Coach, Manager, Principal, or Minister may replace President). The executive members you list on the application must be the actual elected executive of the organization itself and not members of a sub-committee who have been given responsibility for the charitable gaming event.

Does the LGA set an expense limit?

Yes, bingo expenses must not exceed 10% of gross bingo revenue. Prizes, cost of product, licence fees and rent are not to be included within this 10% limit.

Is there a limit to the prize(s) we can offer?

No, the prize(s) offered is up to the organization. The LGA does not set prize limits; however, all prizes must be guaranteed.

What if our organization does not have current funds to cover the cost of all prizes being offered?

The total cost of all prizes must be guaranteed before a licence is issued. The LGA will accept an organization’s current bank statement, an irrevocable standby letter of credit from a financial institution (sample) or proof of purchase for any merchandise prize. The LGA will not accept a third party guarantee for prizes. Evidence of sufficient funds is not required if all prizes being offered are based on a percentage of sales or if all prizes are being donated.

What is a contractual agreement and when do we need one?

A contractual agreement (sample) is an agreement between the organization and the provider of a prize. Contractual agreements must be submitted with your application for each individual prize valued at $5,000 or more, whether it is donated or purchased.

Can organizations determine the amount of a prize for a bingo game based on the percentage of sales?

Yes, if approved by the LGA.

Can we reduce the bingo prize(s) for an occasion in the event of inclement weather?

Yes, in the event of anticipated reduced attendance, an organization may implement a substitute bingo program if the substitute program has been approved by the LGA. The organization must notify the LGA when using the substitute program.

Can we give away door prizes at bingo?

Yes, door prizes are allowed if there is no charge for a chance to win the prize. The value of the prize is recorded in the expense area of the organization’s application and event report. Do not record it as a prize paid. When giving away a cash door prize, the amount should be recorded in the cash expense area of the event report. When purchasing merchandise to give away as a door prize, the cheque should be recorded in the other expense column of the financial report covering the period in which these prizes were purchased.

Are there any limitations on advertising our bingo/breakopen?

Bingo/breakopen can only be advertised in Manitoba and you cannot advertise your bingo/breakopen until your licence is approved. All advertisements must contain the name of the licensed organization and your licence number. If you are advertising on the internet, you must indicate that the event is intended for Manitoba residents only. Advertisements must adhere to federal, provincial and community advertising laws and standards.

How can we use the money we raise through our bingo/breakopen?

Funds raised through bingo/breakopen must be used for education, religion, health, relieving poverty, or to benefit the community by promoting sports, recreation, culture, or any other area considered appropriate by the LGA. Please provide as much detail as possible on your application about your intended use of funds.

Must licensees purchase all bingo paper and breakopen products from Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries?

Yes, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is the only supplier of bingo paper and breakopen tickets in the province.

Can licensees sell any kind of breakopen tickets?

Once a breakopen licence is issued, the organization can order any kind of breakopen tickets carried by Manitoba Liquor &Lotteries.

If our organization runs out of a certain product that we need for our bingo, can we borrow some from another group?

Bingo paper cannot be shared between organizations. Each group is fully responsible for its own inventory and must ensure that an accurate count is kept in order to maintain adequate stock and ensure proper inventory controls. When supplies begin to get low, more product can be ordered from Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries’ order desk at 204-957-2500 or toll-free at 1-800-782-0367.

How do licensees handle bingo or breakopen product short shipments and/or damaged paper?

Organizations should contact the LGA’s Compliance Department to explain the situation. The LGA follows exactly what you have purchased as recorded inventory on your financial reports, so it is important to notify us of any large damages or missing product. The LGA will often conduct physical inventory counts during an inspection to help maintain accurate product counts.

Any inquires about shortages or damages should be made directly to Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, as the supplier of bingo and breakopen product, at 204-957-2500 or toll-free at 1-800-782-0367.

What should our organization do if there is a problem with a breakopen unit?

Breakopen errors are relatively rare and are dealt with between the LGA, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries and the manufacturer. However, it is important that you contact the LGA Compliance Department if you find problems with a unit. If the problem is related to mixed serial numbers, poor colour or issues of product quality, the organization will likely be permitted to continue selling the unit. If the issue involves extra or insufficient winners in a unit, the LGA will likely instruct the organization to stop selling the unit and forward it to the LGA for examination. Once the problem is identified, the information will be forwarded to the supplier and Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries for resolution.

What should be done if a bingo worker discovers a tampered bingo card?

The LGA recommends that the organization contact the police immediately. Individuals who tamper with bingo cards may be committing a criminal offence. Organizations should also contact the LGA’s Compliance Department.

What should be done if an altered breakopen ticket is discovered?

The LGA recommends that the organization contact the police immediately. The person who cashed in the ticket may be committing a criminal offence. Organizations should also contact the LGA’s Compliance Department.

Where can we purchase or rent bingo equipment?

The LGA does not provide a list of places from which you can purchase or rent equipment. Organizations can start by checking the MTS Yellow Pages under “Games and Supplies” and/or “Bingo Equipment and Supplies”. Organizations can also check with local community organizations that operate bingo.

Do we require a bingo verifier before we begin operations?

No. Although these items are frequently used by organizations that conduct bingo, they are not required.

When do we have to replace our bingo balls?

All equipment used for bingo must be in good working order and is subject to inspection and approval by the LGA. Bingo balls must be free of defects and equal in all characteristics that control their selection. The life span of bingo balls depends on several factors: the amount of use, the type of bingo balls, the bingo ball selection device and how the caller handles them. If there are any concerns about bingo balls in play, they must be replaced immediately.

Can players check the bingo balls at any time during an event?

Yes, the Bingo/Breakopen Terms and Conditions state that, “Players have the right to confirm the accuracy of the numbers called or displayed against the balls in the tray. If there is discrepancy, only the balls on the tray are considered correct.”

Does an organization have to display the bingo balls prior to the start of the event?

Yes, bingo balls must be displayed on the tray so that they can be inspected by any player before the start of play at each event.

Why is there a scratch-off feature on breakopen tickets?

Manitoba continues to be one of the few markets that have a latex security seal on the outside of breakopen tickets. The security seal outside the ticket windows assures licensees, players and the LGA that the ticket has not been altered. Once the latex seal is removed, you can immediately see what the winning ticket is worth. Sellers and players should pay close attention to ensure that the latex seal has not been removed from the breakopen tickets.

Can licensees return unsold partial units of breakopen tickets to Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries?

Yes, if an organization is ceasing operations and there are no plans for them to continue, the tickets may be returned to Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries; however, a credit will not be issued. An organization may also keep the breakopen tickets if they expect to sell the tickets (with an approved licence) in the future. If this is the case, the organization must ensure tickets are stored in a locked and secure area.

Are there any limits on the number of bingos our organization can operate?

The LGA may limit the number of events held by an organization during any specific time period.

How can our organization change the bingo game format or program, add special games or change our disbursements?

All changes to a licence must be requested in writing. A licence amendment form must be completed and sent to the Gaming Licence Department. Please email your amendment or fax it to 204-954-9450 or toll-free to 1-866-999-6688. Changes cannot be implemented until approval has been received. It takes two to four weeks to process amendments.

Can breakopen tickets be sold at functions outside of, or in addition to, a licensee’s bingo events?

Yes, providing the organization obtains an approved licence or amendment from the LGA. Many organizations sell breakopen tickets at winter carnivals or other locations in addition to their ongoing bingo events. If the organization has not identified the special event in their original application, a licence amendment form must be submitted and approved before the the sale of breakopen tickets. Changes cannot be implemented until approval has been received. It takes two to four weeks to process amendments.

We received forms with our bingo/breakopen licence package. What do we do with these forms?

Organizations with anticipated gross revenue over $10,000 must submit financial reports to the LGA. Organizations with anticipated gross revenue of $10,000 or less must simply keep records of the licensed event(s) and are not required to submit the forms. All records relating to the conduct and operation of the bingo/breakopen must be kept by the licensee for at least three years. The LGA may request these records during an inspection, audit or with a subsequent application.

Should house rules be posted at an event?

The LGA requires organizations to provide copies of the game program, house rules and the LGA’s standard rules of play to players at each event. Many organizations have house rules printed on the game program.

Can volunteers play bingo?

All volunteers at a bingo may play, with the exception of the caller. Callers at a bingo event may not play bingo at any time during that event, even if they only call for a portion of the event. Organizations must specify in their house rules if they choose to exclude other workers or volunteers from playing.

Can volunteers purchase breakopen tickets?

All workers, including volunteers, that sell breakopen tickets at an event are prohibited from purchasing breakopen tickets at that specific event. Individuals must be 18 years of age or older to sell, purchase or redeem breakopen tickets.

What are the rules regarding children playing bingo?

The LGA does not set a minimum age requirement for bingo. If an organization has set a minimum age requirement, they must provide that information in their house rules.

If someone calls bingo immediately after the caller has announced the letter under which the next number will be called, must the caller finish calling that number?

Calling bingo stops the game immediately pending the verification of that bingo. According to the Bingo/Breakopen Terms and Conditions, once bingo has been called, no further numbers can be called. The number on the bingo ball must be called out by the caller before the ball is considered in play. If it is a valid bingo and the game continues for a second pattern, the previously selected ball becomes the next number called. If the balls are to be dropped, all balls including the one removed from the machine should be returned.

What happens if a bingo ball is placed in the wrong slot or the wrong number is called by accident?

The actual ball that was removed from the machine is the official number called. If a caller makes an error, they should announce the mistake and correct the error immediately. Bingo boards are provided for the convenience of the players only and have no official status. The actual balls are the deciding factor in the event of an error between the bingo board and the bingo balls. In the event of discrepancies, players should confirm the accuracy of the balls on the tray.

Can the bingo machine be turned off prior to checking bingo because it is too noisy?

The bingo machine must be left on unless the ball funnel on the bingo machine traps the last bingo ball or the bingo caller captures the top ball.

Does the checker have to use an independent witness?

Yes, the checker must move the bingo sheet or card from in front of the player who has called bingo and place it so that it is visible to other players. The checker must then call out the covered numbers of the required pattern on the card or sheet or call out the control number in the center (free space) of the sheet if an electronic bingo verifier is used.

Can callers just call back the numbers that have not been called?

No, the Bingo/Breakopen Terms and Conditions state that the checker must call out the covered numbers of the required pattern on the card or sheet or call out the control number if an electronic verifier is used.

If someone completes two patterns with one number, must the caller call another number or can that person be awarded both prizes?

Progressive games can be won in any order; therefore, once a person calls bingo and makes the checker aware that they have completed both patterns, and both are valid, there is no need to call another number.

How long do licensees have to keep winning breakopen tickets?

Complete breakopen records must be retained by the licensee for at least three years. These records must include, but are not limited to, event reports, inventory control forms and breakopen tickets. All winning breakopen tickets should be kept until the entire unit of tickets is sold with the correct number of winners paid. If a problem is detected (e.g. too many or not enough winners), licensees should contact the LGA Compliance Department.