Punch boards and pull-tabs FAQ

Our frequently asked questions regarding punchboards and pull-tabs.

Is there a specific time that I must pull games that are in play?

No. There are no rules that require the operator to leave a game in play or when to pull the game from play. Each operator is encouraged to determine his or her own formula. Some operators use a calculation based on the cost of games plus, a certain profit they hope to make before pulling a game.

Can I pull a game from play if it is being played?

Yes. That is the technical answer. However, you might want to consider public relations and the possibility of physical conflict if a game is pulled while being actively played. It is your choice.

If a player refused to produce proper identification or provides fake identification, do I have to pay the winner?

No. WAC rules specify that all winners over $20.00 must provide adequate and true identification. If the person refuses to do so, you are under no obligation to violate the WAC. by paying the winner. If a person produces fake identification, he/she may be attempting to defraud you. Get a hold of your local law enforcement agency immediately.

What type of identification should I accept to identify the winner?

Gambling rules do not specifically address what is acceptable identification; however, the type of identification that would be acceptable by the Liquor & Cannabis Board would be acceptable identification for your purposes. You obtain identification that assures that you, as a licensee, have no question as to the identity of the winner. Whatever you would accept in order to allow a person to cash a check would be appropriate, also.

Can I "reserve" a pull-tab game for a specific player?

Yes. Your house rules must be posted spelling out how and when a game will be reserved. There must also be a sign posted on the flare that the game is reserved.

If I reserve a game for a player, can I put the game back into general play when the player no longer wants to play the game?

Yes. As long as the game and flare remained up and visible to other players, it can be returned for general play. Also, you can decide to immediately pull the game from play, the choice is yours.

Can I hold a game for a player and take it out of the container or remove it from public view while I am waiting for the player to return?

This is similar to reserving a game, with some important exceptions. If you "hold" a game, you may remove it from the dispensing device and from public view. However, you may not hold it for more than 7 days without any play, or more than 14 days overall. Also, once the player is finished, the game may not be put back into public play. It must be pulled. You cannot hold more than 25 games at a time.

Do all of my employees who sell punchboards and pull tabs have to attend mandatory training?

For information about training requirements, visit our Training Requirements page.

If I decide to operate a merchandise game and the prizes are too big to fit behind the bar, can I just put out one for show and secure the rest in the back room?

A merchandise prize should be displayed in the immediate vicinity of the punchboard or pull-tab series and in plain view. If size or space constraints do not allow the prize to be displayed, the merchandise prize may be displayed elsewhere on the premises provided that a specific reference to that actual prize is referenced on the flare. If the merchandise prize cannot be displayed on the premises, an accurate description and/or photograph of the prize must be displayed in plain view on or immediately adjacent to the flare.

The rule says that I must "conspicuously" and permanently delete a winner with a value of more than $20.00 from the flare. What is considered "conspicuously"?

The general rule is that the prize must be deleted in a manner that would allow a person sitting on the other side of your bar and in the light available to easily see that a specific prize is no longer available. This can be done with either stickers or a heavy permanent-marking pen. However, if you choose to use a sticker to delete the prizes from the flare, you must also use a permanent-marking pen underneath the sticker.

Winning tickets worth more than $20.00 must be defaced. What is a proper means of defacing and when must the defacing be done?

Winners worth more than $20.00 must be defaced through the winning symbols. This in necessary to prevent the winning symbols to be removed and utilized to defraud you or another licensee. Defacing must be done within 24 hours of redeeming the ticket, but we recommend that you should do it immediately when you are going through the redemption process so you don't forget or pay off twice on the same ticket.

Can parents allow their children under the age of 18 years to open their pull-tabs?

Persons under the age of 18 are prohibited from selling or playing. It is the responsibility of the licensee to see that no person under 18 years of age is allowed to play or sell pull-tabs. Although the opening of pull-tabs may not be "playing", there are some important public perception issues involved if you allow this activity to occur. We encourage you to discourage the practice whenever possible, and specifically not to pay out the prize to any minors who present tickets to you.

What is the rule regarding the proper disposal of used punchboards and pull-tab series?

There is no formal rule regarding the disposal of used boards or series. It is recommended that you dispose of them in a manner that will not allow someone to get a hold of them and use the unclaimed winners to defraud you or another licensee. Soaking or burning is the preferred methods.

Is there an easy way to tell if someone is trying to pass an altered pull-tab?

Yes and No. Some people are very good at trying to get your money. Most attempts to pass a bad pull-tab are very sloppy and with a little effort on employees' part can be spotted. First, make sure your employees know about and use both the primary and secondary win protection codes. This is the most valuable tool you have to prevent or catch bad tabs. Second, take the time to "feel" the tab being presented for payment. No one can alter a tab and make it feel like an original. Run your fingers across the face. If it is bumpy or uneven, suspect a fraud. Run your fingers along the edges, again, if uneven, suspect fraud. A little extra time can save you big money.

If I suspect a theft or fraud, whom do I contact?

Immediately call your local law enforcement agency. They have a prime responsibility to investigate all thefts or attempts. Be prepared to give all the information about the incident, including a suspect. If you can, obtain identification from the suspect before he/she becomes suspicious of your actions. Do not return the identification until the law enforcement representative has arrived. After the initial law enforcement contact, call your local agent and advise of the incident. He/She will contact the law enforcement agency and follow up.

Do I have to honor pull-tabs that are removed from the premises?

There is not a specific rule that addresses this. You should establish a house rule that covers this issue to prevent complaints.

Can I utilize a "dead game service" to store my games and do my records? If so, does the service need to be licensed?

Yes. You can utilize a service to store your games and complete your records. You must remember, if there happens to be a mistake in record keeping, you, as a licensee, are totally responsible for the mistake. Many dead game services will be required to be licensed by the Gambling Commission, but it depends on the level of service they are providing to you. Check with your local agent before signing any contracts with such a service to see if they will need to be licensed.

I have very limited space for the placement of the fish bowl containers. Can I attach the flare to the front of the fish bowl container in such a manner that blocks the player from seeing the remaining tabs?

No. All pull tabs must be dispensed from a dispenser we approved or a clear container which affords the player an opportunity to view the remaining tickets in order to estimate the number of chances remaining. If the container is in a position that allows view of the tabs by a side view, we have determined that it meets the rule requirements.

Before disposing of tickets from a game taken out of play, can a licensee allow their employees to take a handful of tickets out of the game, without paying for them, as an incentive or bonus program?

No. All unsold tickets must be retained intact. If a field agent does an audit, you must be able to account for all unsold tickets, or you will be responsible to report them as if they were sold.