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legal issues with raffles

12 years 2 months ago #136845 by Madame president
legal issues with raffles was created by Madame president
We have had a raffle at our Fall Festival for the past several years. A current board member feels there are legal issues (Florida) prohibiting us from doing this as it is "gambling." We are a private for profit school but the money that the PTA raises goes directly back to the students.
12 years 2 months ago #136854 by JHB
Replied by JHB on topic legal issues with raffles
Yes, raffles are considered a game of chance (gambling) and probably are regulated. You'll have to see the rules in your state.

One question is "what is a raffle". Absolutely it includes the type of fundraiser where you have printed tickets for a prize that are bundled and pre-sold by volunteers. At some point a a winner is drawn for a major prize. In our state, a "qualified" charitable org can hold two raffles per year subject to strict guidelines.

We don't do the raffle like above (for that reason), but we do often have "drawings" or "bag raffles" at our events. You buy tickets at the door, write your name, drop them in the container for the item(s) you want. Everything is done on-site within the space of a couple of hours. So it's not like the tradional raffle for a car or something. Prizes are relatively inexpensive ($100 maybe). Is that a raffle and thus subject to the raffle rules? I tried to get clarification from our Attorney General's Office and was told we'd need to consult a lawyer.

We decided ourselves that it's not, and are careful not to use the word "raffle". Yes, a cop out. But seriously - "consult a lawyer"?

You'll definitely need to check the specific rules in your state.
12 years 2 months ago #136858 by Serendipity
Yes, you need a license. But don't let that stop you, they are easy and inexpensive to get. The laws and procedures vary by state. You don't need a lawyer. What you should do is go see the clerk at your town/city hall.
They will tell you exactly what you need to do and give you the paper work that needs to be filled out. Where I live the license is $10 to our town and $10 to the state. Now the mayor & council actually vote and waive our fee to the town so all we pay is the $10 to the state when we need a license.

You may also be able to find all the information you need online. Do a google search for "gaming license information for non profits in "list your state". Most state governments have web pages with this information.
12 years 2 months ago #136860 by JHB
Replied by JHB on topic legal issues with raffles
Serendiptity is right. My answer may have made it sound like it's "hard" to do a raffle. And that's not usually true. You just need to be aware of and follow the rules. In our case, we don't even need a license or pay a fee.

In our state, there are specific rules about the fact that the prize can't be cash or exceed some value (big, like $50K or something), who can hold a raffle, how many per year, what must be printed on the ticket, and how the tickets can be sold. Most of it's pretty reasonable, like you can't sell state-wide and no one can be compensated to sell tickets.

It's not hard or unreasonable, but running one not in accordance with the regs is subject to a misdemeanor.

It's our school district that discourages PTOs from doing "raffles" because there have been too many instances of misinformed leaders doing it incorrectly.

We had one group (athletic boosters, I think) last year that had a raffle for a car. They worked so hard all year long selling tickets. But, ultimately, they didn't collect enough money to cove the cost of the SUV. (There was some fine print explaining what would happen in that event.) They had sold hundreds and hundred of $25 tickets. The group had to send a letter to each ticket purchaser offering a refund or the opportunity to "donate" the price of the ticket because the raffle had been cancelled.

That one was a bit of a PR disaster (for parent groups trying to do "big" things), but at least they did strictly follow all the rules.
12 years 2 months ago #137025 by PresidentJim
In my state (Massachusetts) and/or town the requirement is to apply for the rights to hold events of this anture. You do have to be a non-profit organization to do so though. Once you file, with the minimal surcharge, you are allowed to hold three events of this nature within a one year timeframe. Last year we had our Open House raffles and a Poker Tournament, and this year's Opne House raffles fall within the 1 year.

Nut as the others suggested, check with your city hall and see what they allow/require. You will likely need your taz exempt paperwork when you submit.

Good luck,
PresidentJim
12 years 2 months ago #137044 by OneandOnly
Your school is profit, but is YOUR organization. If you have organized as a non-profit parent-teacher organization and you are running all your events under the PTO name, than that is different than your school holding the raffle.

Your local municipal building can help you sort out what you would need either way.

Doing it for my one and only ~~ my son!
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