State by State: Raffle Law in America

Sweet and Simple

In our last installment, we discussed some of the harsher regulations regaring raffle law, but not every state takes such a minute interest in the particulars of your group’s fundraiser. In Maine, for instance, the laws are looser. For raffles with prizes in $10,000, many charitable organizations do not require licenses or oversight. In addition to those goodwill organization identified by most states, Maine includes “Any agricultural society eligible for the state stipend,” and “Any state agency that conducts or operates a raffle for a donated item to benefit fish and wildlife conservation projects” in their list of those exempt from requiring a license.

Many states require little oversight for smaller fundraising efforts. Nebraska limits profits of unregulated raffles to $5,000. Montana approves of “limited legal gambling” and includes raffles in its list of “legal live games.” While gambling is restricted to adults over the age of 18, in Montana, minors may participate in “raffles conducted by churches, schools, charitable and nonprofit organizations.”

No Big Deal

While there is oversight of raffle in South Carolina, law enforcement agencies are instructed to “not charge a charitable, religious, or eleemosynary organization conducting a raffle for the benefit of the organization where all the proceeds inure to the benefit of the organization,” but rather to issue those who run afoul of the law with written warnings. For small raffles being run in the state of Virginia, the law is fairly relaxed. In general an organization “that reasonably expects, based on prior charitable gaming annual results or any other quantifiable method, to realize gross receipts of $40,000 or less” in their raffle need not worry overmuch about the law. In addition, volunteer fire departments and other volunteer first responders are exempt from registration and auditing fees.

One state that enthusiastically supports the right of charitable organization to use raffles for fundraising purposes is Wisconsin. The state’s administrative website proudly states, “Raffles are Wisconsin s favorite and most profitable form of grassroots fund-raising.” According to this site,  “Well over 7,500 groups are licensed to conduct raffles and net profits from this activity have remained steady at nearly 60%.” In Wisconsin, a raffle license costs only $25 per year, which authorizes the holder to run up to 200 raffles every year.

Next: Wrap It Up