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Field v. Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission

Decided: December 2, 1963.


For reversal -- Chief Justice Weintraub, and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Haneman. For affirmance -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Weintraub, C.J.


The Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission (herein Control Commission) held that Allendale Field and Stream Association (herein Allendale) was not qualified for a license to conduct a raffle. Under the statute, as we shall later point out, a license may be issued only by a municipality. The Control Commission here made its determination when Allendale applied to it for registration, which, under the Control Commission's rules, is prerequisite to an application for a license. The Appellate Division reversed, holding that the Control Commission could not consider Allendale's eligibility except upon an appeal from a municipal refusal to license. Allendale Field & Stream Ass'n v. Legalized Games of Chance Control Comm'n, 76 N.J. Super. 313 (App. Div. 1962). We granted the Control Commission's petition for certification. 39 N.J. 237 (1963).


In 1953, Art. IV, § VII, par. 2 of the State Constitution was amended to permit the playing at games of chance known as "bingo" and "raffles" in municipalities in which a majority of the voters should approve of such gambling.

The amendment sought in several ways to guard against the obvious evils which could invade the field. First, it limited the operators to "bona fide veterans, charitable, educational, religious or fraternal organizations, civic and service clubs, volunteer fire companies and first-aid or rescue squads." Second, it required "the entire net proceeds" of the game to be devoted to purposes more limited than the total purposes for which some of the described organizations could be formed; the entire net proceeds must be devoted to "educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited uses." And third, the amendment expressly preserved the legislative power to provide restrictions and controls from time to time.

Upon the adoption of the amendment much attention was given to the subject of effective control in this delicate area.

The Governor constituted a committee to study the problems and to prepare drafts of appropriate legislation. The committee submitted its report (January 15, 1954) in which it said in part (p. 2):

"4. We believe that only the essential rules should be contained in the statute, and that for the details broad rule making power should be assigned to a board to be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. No one can foresee with much assurance just what undesirable situations will arise in relation to bingo and raffles, what form they will take and how best to remedy them. A regulatory board has been provided for to serve as a means of gathering accurate information not now available. It can constantly watch the situation as it develops and will be able to take such measures from time to time as circumstances require, and to recommend such legislation as may seem necessary."

The Legislature did not adopt the bills as formulated by the Governor's committee, but it did embrace the same principle that the Control Commission should have broad powers to supervise and regulate. N.J.S.A. 5:8-6 accordingly provides:

"It shall be the duty of the commission to supervise the administration of the Bingo Licensing Law and the Raffles Licensing Law and to adopt, amend and repeal rules and regulations governing the issuance and amendment of licenses thereunder and the holding, operating and conducting of games of chance under such licenses * * * which shall have the force of law and shall be binding upon all municipalities issuing licenses under either or both of said laws and upon all licensees thereunder * * * to the end that such licenses shall be issued to qualified licensees only and that said games of chance shall be fairly and properly conducted for the purposes and in the manner in said laws prescribed and to prevent the games of chance authorized to be conducted by said laws from being conducted for commercial purposes instead of for the purposes authorized in said laws, and in order to provide uniformity in the administration of said laws throughout the State, the commission shall prescribe forms of applications for licenses, licenses, amendment of licenses, reports of the conduct of games and other matters incident to the administration of said laws. * * *"

The Control Commission adopted rules and regulations, which it filed with the Secretary of State pursuant to N.J.S.A. 5:8-7. They require every organization to "register

with the Control Commission and secure an identification number" before filing an application for a license with the municipality (Part II, § 1). The rules state that neither registration nor the assignment of an identification number shall ...

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