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Frequently Asked Questions

Licensing FAQ
Criminal & Regulatory FAQ
Consumer Protection FAQ
Gaming FAQ
State & Local FAQ


Q Does the fair board need a state fair board license?

Yes. If your fair board will be allowing either bingo or amusement devices to be operated at the fair. In addition, proper licenses are required of the bingo or amusement device operators.

Q On what holidays are retail alcoholic beverage establishments prohibited from dispensing or allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages on licensed premises?

After 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve; all of Christmas Day; and no off-sale after 2:00 am on Thanksgiving Day.

Q May I go off my licensed premises and sell (retail) alcoholic beverages?

Yes - (only within the jurisdiction for which you are licensed i.e., city or county), provided you have been issued an event permit by the local governing body. Event permits are temporary, and can be issued for 1-14 days, which may include Sundays. The fee for an event permit may not exceed $25.00. To go "outside" of the jurisdiction for which you are licensed requires additional local and state licenses.

Q Do we have to be off the licensed premises after 2:00 am?

State law does not prohibit you from being on licensed premises after 2:00 am. State law does however, prohibit alcoholic beverages from being "dispensed" or "consumed" on licensed premises after 2:00 am, and on certain days. There may be local ordinances that are more restrictive, therefore be certain to check with the city or county that has local jurisdiction over the specific premises.

Q How do I obtain a state retail alcoholic beverage license?

The Licensing Section of the Office of Attorney General has a licensing packet which includes the application forms and instructions needed to apply for a state retail alcoholic beverage license. The application forms are specific depending on whether the applicant is an individual or organization (i.e., Corporation, Limited Liability Company, etc.,)

Q Do I need a state transient merchant license?

Any person or company who conducts temporary or transient business in the state of North Dakota, whether in one location or when traveling from place to place, is required to obtain a state transient merchant’s license. An individual or company selling livestock or agricultural products is exempt from having to obtain the state transient merchant’s license. Each local governing body (city/county) in the state may have additional permit or licensing requirements that apply to both transient merchants or those selling livestock or agricultural products. For additional information, see the Transient Merchant information provided by the Licensing Section.

Q What are the requirements for a state gaming license?

For information, see Gaming License Application

Q: My friends and I want to raise money to help pay the medical bills for a neighbor’s sick child. Are we required to obtain any permits or licenses?

The type of fundraising activity to be conducted will determine any permit or license requirements for the organization or group of people. If the fundraising activity includes “charitable gaming” (such as a raffle), the organizer should contact the city or county where the “raffle drawing” will take place to apply for a local permit. For “charitable solicitations” (such as donation tins or jars left at local businesses) or other fundraising types of activities (including silent auctions), the organizer should contact an attorney in private practice to ensure compliance with state law and local ordinances relevant to the specific activity the group intends to conduct.

Q Our organization would like to conduct a small raffle but does not have a state gaming license; what should we do?

State law has a provision which allows local governing bodies (i.e. cities/counties) to issue a local permit to an organization recognized as public spirited. A local permit can allow for raffles, bingo and professional sports pools to be conducted where a primary prize does not have a value greater than $6,000 and the total value of all prizes given out within a year does not exceed $12,000. A single cash prize cannot exceed $6,000 and total cash prizes cannot exceed $6,000 in one day. The city or county in which the site is located (where the activity is scheduled to take place) dictates where the organization applies for the local permit.

A public spirited organization may apply for a charity local permit to allow playing paddlewheels, twenty-one and poker, in addition to a raffle, bingo and sports pool, for a one-time event during a year. An organization may receive either multiple local permits or one charity local permit in a year, but not both. For More Information, see: Local Gaming Permit/Application /Report

Q I want to start up a new business in North Dakota. What do I need to do? How do I get a business license in North Dakota?

North Dakota does not have a generic business license. Different types of licenses may be required depending on the items you sell or services you offer specific to your business or profession. For legal advice and to ensure compliance with all state laws and local regulations, contact an attorney in private practice.

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Criminal & Regulatory

Q Does the Attorney General have supervisory authority over a state's attorney?

No. Although the Attorney General may provide advice and assistance to a state's attorney, a state's attorney is an elected county official independent of any control or supervision of this office. The States Attorneys have "prosecutorial discretion", meaning that they have the right to decide which cases they will prosecute, and how they will proceed. The duties of the States Attorney are set out in N.D.C.C. Chapter 11-16.

Q If I have a complaint about the way a police or sheriff's department employee is doing his or her job, whom should I contact?

If the complaint relates to the employee's general job performance, the complaint should be directed to the employee's supervisor or the appropriate city or county official. As in private business, these are personnel matters and are correctly handled by the department head, a city or county board official, or the city or state's attorney for initiation of an inquiry or investigation.

Q I want to make a complaint about a States Attorney.

This office does not have authority over the states attorneys. We cannot demand a states attorney take a case, nor can we dictate how they should proceed in a case. If you feel the states attorney has a conflict in your case, you should bring this to the attention of the states attorney. If there is indeed a conflict, the states attorney may request assistance from this office or from another attorney. If you disagree with a decision made by the states attorney, you should discuss your concerns with him or her - we cannot reverse or override a prosecutorial decision. While you may not agree with the decision or the outcome of a case, this is solely within the discretion of the states attorney.

Q Is a State's Attorney required to file a formal criminal complaint upon the request of a citizen or victim?

No. North Dakota law gives a state's attorney considerable discretion in making a decision whether to charge someone with a crime. The States Attorney may consider many factors in making the charging decision. If you have concerns about why a certain charge was made or not filed, contact the prosecuting attorney who made the decision. That person is in the best position to explain the reasons and the basis for the decision whether or not to charge certain crimes or individuals.

Q I want to dismiss a criminal complaint or no longer want to continue with a criminal prosecution. Is the prosecuting attorney required to dismiss the criminal charges?

No. A violation of a criminal law is a public offense. Unlike a private legal action in which you would hire a lawyer and bring your own lawsuit, criminal charges are prosecuted by public officials representing the citizens of the state or a city. The prosecuting attorney is not your attorney but is the attorney for the public at-large. In addition, a criminal complaint can be signed or an arrest can be made by law enforcement authorities even though you may express your desire that the entire matter be dropped or ignored. Although the prosecuting attorney will consider your request to dismiss a criminal charge, that attorney is not required to do so. You can even be subpoenaed to testify as a witness at a trial even though you want to drop the criminal charges.

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Consumer Protection

Q I bought a car over the weekend - don't I have 3 days to return it if it isn't what I wanted?

No. There is no three-day right to cancel when purchasing a vehicle. The three-day right to cancel applies only to purchases made other than at a normal place of business, or in your home.

Q Does North Dakota's "Lemon Law" apply to used cars ?

No. The Lemon Law applies only to new cars. It does not apply to any other motorized vehicle or to used cars. If you purchase a used car (whether from a dealer or a private individual) you buy the car “as is” unless you also purchase a warranty. When buying a used car, be sure to get all warranties and promises of repair in writing.

Q When reviewing my phone bill, I found several charges listed for telephone services I did not request and do not want - what do I do now?

You may have been a victim of slamming/cramming. Slamming is when a carrier you did not authorize charges you for long distance calls. Cramming is when you are billed for telephone services you did not request or even know you had. If you believe either of these has happened to you, you should contact the Public Service Commission.

Q I saw an advertisement stating that I could earn $2.00 for each envelope I stuff. I have to pay $35.00 to get started. Is this legitimate?

Postal authorities and federal agencies have determined that you will not make money by investing in these "work at home" opportunities - you will only lose your money.

Q I received a solicitation in the mail telling me I have won up to $100,000. They request that I send them $26.00. Did I really win?

No, you have not won anything! Unfortunately, sweepstakes scams are a perennial problem in North Dakota. No legitimate sweepstakes company will require you to pay anything in order to receive a prize. If you send any money in response to these solicitations, you will never see it again.

Q I received a call from my credit card company asking me to verify my account number. I gave them the information, but now I am wondering, should I have done that?

More than likely the call you received did not come from your credit card company. They would not need you to verify your account number because they already have it. If you give your account number over the telephone, you may be charged for services you did not authorize. It is important never to give out account information over the telephone unless you initiated the call. You should review your monthly statements carefully, and contact the credit card company about your experience.

Q How can I reach the Better Business Bureau for North Dakota?

The Better Business Bureau serving North Dakota is physically located in Minnesota but serves both states. You can reach the BBB at (651) 699-1111 or 1-800-646-6222 (both numbers answered 24 hours), by email at ask@mnd.bbb.org. Many people are not aware that the BBB is not a government or regulatory agency.

Q I have a problem with my landlord. What are my rights as a tenant?

You can find general information about tenant rights at http://www.ag.nd.gov/Brochures/FactSheet/TenantRights.pdf.

Q I have been making payments of $15 a month on my hospital (clinic) bill. The hospital (clinic) wants me to pay $200 a month or they will turn the bill over for collection. I can't afford that much. I thought that as long as I made a small payment every month, they could not try to collect the bill or sue me.

We are not aware that you can avoid legal action simply by making some minimal payment. You must negotiate your payment with the medical provider and the medical provider is free to enforce its debt collection if you do not reach an acceptable agreement. You should discuss your financial circumstances with the provider. Historically, we have found the medical providers in ND to be willing to negotiate payment arrangements, but such arrangements may require you to make "reasonable" rather than "nominal" payments each month. You may also consult with a private attorney or Legal Services of North Dakota about your legal rights in these circumstances.

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Q If our organization had no gaming activity during the current quarter, are we still required to file a tax return?

Yes. All licensed gaming organizations are required to file a quarterly tax return unless the organization has surrendered its license.

Q How long does an organization need to retain game pieces and records?

Redeemed and unsold pull tabs for a game must be retained for one year from the end of the quarter in which the activity was reported on a tax return. All other documents, including the deal's game information sheet and flare, purchase invoices or receipts documenting the cost of prizes, accounting and bank records, and receipts documenting eligible uses, must be retained for three years from the end of the quarter in which the activity was reported.

Q Are bar employees allowed to play games.

Only the bar owner, the bar owner's spouse and household members, management and their spouse(s), officers, board of directors, and employees in a position to approve or deny a lease, are restricted from playing games at a site. Other bar employees can play games while on or off duty, except that bar employees cannot play pull tab dispensing devices while on duty.

Q What information is required on a raffle ticket?

All raffle tickets, with the exception of double admission tickets, must contain:

Name of organization
Ticket number
Price of the ticket;
Licensing authority (Attorney General's office or local city or county) and license number
Statement that the person is or is not required to be present to win;
Date and time of the drawing
Location and street address of the drawing; and
A statement that the ticket is not a charitable donation.

If applicable, the ticket must also disclose whether sales are restricted to persons of a minimum age, whether prizes require a title transfer, and whether the winning player is or is not liable for sales or use tax on the prize.

Q What is the minimum age for playing games of chance?

Persons under the age of 21 are restricted from playing pull tabs, punchboards, twenty-one, calcuttas, sports pools, paddlewheels, and poker. Persons under 18 years of age are restricted from playing bingo unless accompanied by an adult, or the bingo is conducted under a local permit, or the prize structure does not exceed that allowed for a local permit. There is no age restriction on raffles unless the organization sets a minimum age based on the type of prize to be awarded.

Q Is online gambling legal in North Dakota?

No. Online gambling is prohibited under the state's Constitution, regardless of the amount wagered. In North Dakota, gambling may be conducted only by licensed non-profit organizations, Tribal casinos or through a state run lottery. Review information about ND Lottery games at www.lottery.nd.gov.

Q With the popularity of "Texas Hold'em" tournaments broadcast on cable television, is it possible to conduct poker tournaments in the State of North Dakota?

According to state law, each licensed charitable organization may conduct poker on not more than two occasions per year. Poker activity must be conducted at an authorized site of the licensed organization. A poker tournament if it includes satellite qualifying tournaments may be conducted for not more than three consecutive calendar days of play. An organization may allow players to rebuy or add-on additional poker chips, which may be less than or equal to the original entry fee, provided that the total amount collected during a satellite tournament does not exceed $300 and the main poker tournament event does not exceed a separate $300 total entry amount. The total amount of prizes for a poker tournament may not exceed ninety percent of the gross proceeds.

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State & Local

Q I requested an open record from a state or local government office and the office turned me down. What should I do?

The government office is required to explain its legal authority for the denial and put the denial in writing if requested. If the office hasn't explained why your request was denied, go back and ask for the explanation in writing. This forces the office to review its initial response. For more information, see  http://www.ag.nd.gov/OpenRecords/ORM.htm.

Q A public entity would not let me speak at its meeting. Isn’t this a violation of my rights?

Under the open meetings law, a member of the public has the right to attend a meeting and to record and broadcast the meeting, but does not have the right to speak at the meeting.

Q How do I get an attorney general opinion on a violation of the open records or meetings laws?

Opinion requests need to be in writing addressed to the Attorney General. To review a denial of records, you also need to include a copy of a written request for records that you gave the government office. We can't review a denial of a verbal request for records.

Q Can the Attorney General's Office review ANY violation of the open records or meetings laws?

We must receive a request for an opinion on an alleged violation that the public entity held a meeting without providing public notice within 90 days of the violation, regardless of the date on which the requester became aware of the violation. For all other alleged violations of the open meetings laws and any alleged violations of the open records laws we must receive the opinion request within 30 days of the violation, regardless of when you first learned about the violation.

Q If I think a public entity held a meeting in secret, what can I do?

You can request an opinion from the Attorney General on an alleged violation of the open meetings law that a public entity (or a committee or subcommittee of a public entity) held a meeting without providing proper notice to the public. You should submit a written request and identify the public entity and information about the alleged violation. We are able to review alleged violations occurring within 90 days prior to us receiving your complaint. You should be aware that even if we find a public entity violated the law, we cannot reverse, void, or overrule any decisions made or actions taken at the meeting.

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