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Nonprofit Raffle Laws and Regulations by State

Sweepstakes, door prizes, and raffles have become nearly as common for promoting some 508 activities as they are for other local charities and causes. Promotions are one way to raise funds for your 508, but they also can introduce some complications, especially legal problems, if they aren’t organized according to federal and state laws. By following charitable gaming laws, 508 can avoid difficulties when they host such promotions for their church or ministry.

Steer Clear of Lotteries

Federal and state governments heavily regulate lotteries. It’s illegal for any organization besides the government to sponsor one. Lotteries are composed of three elements. To avoid hosting a lottery inadvertently, 508s should offer promotions that eliminate one of these three elements:

  1. A prize. Something of value.
  2. Luck. The promotion’s outcome is not dependent on skill.
  3. “Consideration.” Generally an entrance payment of some sort. This payment is typically money, but anything that takes a considerable amount of the entrant’s time, or provides a benefit to the promotion’s sponsor also may be “consideration.”

Here are some examples:

  • Sweepstakes. Sweepstakes aren’t considered lotteries because there is no consideration—only a prize and luck.
  • Contests. Although most contests include a prize and consideration, they do not include luck. True contests are tests of skill, which removes the element of luck.
  • Raffles. Raffles are more difficult to classify. Because raffles include a prize, luck, and consideration they are considered lotteries in some states. In these states, hosting a raffle can be considered a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison or fines of up to two thousand dollars.
  • Door Prize. True door prizes include only a prize and luck. When consideration is added, they can become an illegal lottery. Some states require door prize registration.
State sorted by alphabetical order Legal or prohibited Specific regulations Are online ticket sales permitted Cost
Alabama The State of Alabama considers raffles to be lotteries, which are illegal under state law. Nonprofits and 501(c)3 organizations cannot host raffles. N/A N/A
Alaska Raffles are legal in Alaska. Nonprofits and 501(c)3 organizations can host raffles as long as they have been in existence for at least three years, and have at least 25 members. Yes! $20.00
Arizona Raffles in Arizona are not regulated, but there are a few rules that determine if you can host a raffle. - Raffles should be registered with the Attorney General’s office. - Your nonprofit organization needs to have been in existence continuously in Arizona for at least one years. Yes! (As long as the sale happens on your website) $0.00
Arkansas Raffles in Arkansas are permitted as long as you have a permit. Your organization needs to be a qualified nonprofit tax exempt organization operating for at least five (5) years. No - Annual license (to host multiple raffles): $100.00 - $25.00 to host one raffle
California Raffles are legal in California. Any nonprofit organization that has been operating in California for at least one year. (AKA your nonprofit does not need 501(c)3 status.) No $30.00
Colorado Colorado requires nonprofit organizations to have a license for every raffle they host. - Have a nonprofit organization in Colorado. - Operate without profit. - Have been operating for 5 years prior to the applying for a bingo-raffle license. Yes $100.00
Connecticut Nonprofit organizations can host raffles as long as they apply for a permit. - Nonprofit organizations must have been functioning for at least one year prior to applying. - Check with your municipality to see if they allow nonprofits to host raffles. Yes! $15.00 - $300.00
Delaware Nonprofit organizations can host raffles as long as they are 501(c) certified by the IRS. If you are a qualified charitable organization and your raffle ticket price is $5 or less and the total retail cash value of prizes to be awarded is less than $5,000, you are not required to obtain a raffle permit from the Board of Charitable Gaming. No $15.00
Florida To host a raffle in the state of Florida you need to be a qualified nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status and have a current determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service. You do not have to register or obtain a license or permit to host a raffle in Florida. (Go Florida!) However, you do have to be a qualified nonprofit organization and follow a few rules and regulations. We couldn’t find any laws or rules that say you can’t, so (as far as we can tell) yes you can! $0.00
Georgia Georgia does allow raffles, but nonprofits need to apply for a permit from the Sheriff’s Office in their county. Only nonprofit, tax-exempt churches, schools, civic organizations, or related support groups; nonprofit organizations qualified under 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code; or bona fide nonprofit organizations approved by the sheriff can host a raffle. No $100.00
Hawaii Raffles are illegal in Hawaii. Nonprofits cannot use raffles as a fundraising device unless they make it clear that participation is free of charge and donations are strictly voluntary. Yes As long as participation is free of charge $0.00
Idaho Charitable and nonprofit organizations can conduct raffles in Idaho. - Must have been in continuous existence for one year in the county where you intend to operate. - Have IRS tax-exempt status under section 501(c)3, etc., be exempt from taxes under Title 63, Idaho Code and be certified by the Secretary of State. Yes $100.00 for the first year + $100.00 - $300.00 for subsequent years.
Illinois Nonprofit organizations can host a raffle in Illinois. Raffles in Illinois are controlled by the counties or municipalities. So, you need to apply through your county or municipality. Yes and no (It depends on your county or municipality) Expect to pay a minimum of $25 to apply for a license.
Indiana Nonprofit organizations can host a raffle in Indiana. Only qualified tax-exempt organizations who have received 501(c) status from the IRS may conduct charitable raffles in Indiana. No (You cannot accept payment via credit card) $50.00
Iowa Yes! Nonprofits can hold raffles in Iowa. - A license must be issued by DIA before gambling takes place, including the promotion and sale of tickets. -You’ll need a State of Iowa Sales Tax Permit Number. (Yes, even non-profit organizations.) Yes (But only with a two-year license) $15.00 - $150.00 depending on length and size of your raffle.
Kansas Charitable raffles are legal in Kansas. Only qualified, tax-exempt nonprofits who have received 501(c) status may conduct raffles in Kansas. Yes $25.00 - $100.00
Kentucky Nonprofit’s can host raffles in Kentucky. Any charitable organization conducting charitable gaming in Kentucky is required to be licensed by the Department of Charitable Gaming. No $25.00
Louisiana Raffles are legal. Any charitable organization conducting gaming in Louisiana is required to be licensed by the Office of Charitable Gaming. Yes $75.00
Maine Raffles hosted by nonprofit organizations are legal. An organization is not required to register with the Gambling Control Unit if the Raffle prize value is $10,000 of less. Yes $15.00 - $700.00
Maryland Raffles are permitted in Maryland but are governed by the counties. All organizations must reach out to their county before hosting a raffle. Yes and no (It depends on the county) $10.00 - $56.00 per raffle.
Massachusetts Nonprofit organizations can hold raffles. - The nonprofit must be organized and actively functioning as a nonprofit in Massachusetts for at least two years. - Before conducting a raffle, the organization must obtain a raffle permit from the city or town where the raffle is being held. No Determined by the city or town.
Michigan Nonprofit organizations can hold raffles. Your nonprofit needs to be qualified by the Charitable Gaming Division and hold a valid raffle license. No $15.00 - $50.00
Minnesota Raffles can be held by nonprofits. You can hold a raffle without a permit if: the total value of ALL prizes is less than $1,500. Or, your nonprofit is a 501(c)(3), the total value of ALL prizes for ONE event does not exceed $5,000. No $100.00 - $150.00
Mississippi Nonprofits can hold raffles. We suggest contacting the Mississippi Gaming Commission because their laws are based on bingo, but do mention raffles. No $0.00
Missouri Yes! Nonprofits can hold raffles. - Any organization recognized as charitable or religious pursuant to federal law may sponsor raffles. - We had a hard time finding any clear information on raffles. Please contact your local government before holding a raffle in Missouri. Yes $0.00
Montana Yes! And you don’t need a license or permit. - A license or permit is not required to conduct a raffle in Montana. - However, nonprofit organizations must register with the department if they wish to sell raffle tickets online. Yes But you need approval (Form 46) $0.00
Nebraska Yes! Nonprofits can hold raffles in Nebraska. - For raffles with cash prizes totalling less than $1000, you do not need a license. - For raffles with merchandise prizes totalling $5000 or less, you do not need a license. - For all other raffles, you need to apply for a license. Yes $30.00
Nevada Nonprofits can hold raffles. Qualified organizations need to get approval from the Gaming Control Board. Yes (With approval) - $0.00 (Prizes totalling less than $100,000.) - $25.00 (Prizes totalling more than $100,000.)
New Hampshire Raffles can be held by registered nonprofits. Nonprofit organizations must have been registered with the secretary of state for at least 2 years and in existence for at least 2 years in a town or city in this state. No $25.00 per game date to a maximum of 10 games per year.
New Jersey Nonprofit can hold raffles. - The municipality where the gaming will be conducted ultimately issues the license. - In order for an organization to apply for a municipal license, it first must register with and obtain an “Identification Number” from the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission. No - $100.00 (Per identification number.) - $20.00 - $400.00 (Depending on municipality.)
New Mexico Yes! Qualified nonprofits can host raffles. If the prize has a value greater than $75,000 then the Gaming Control Board must be notified at least ten (10) days prior to beginning raffle ticket sales or advertising using form BR-024. No Unclear.
New York New York allows nonprofit to hold raffles. You do not need to apply for a license or submit a financial report for individual raffles with anticipated net proceeds under $5,000 or under $30,000 for all raffles within a calendar year. Yes (You have to apply) $25.00
North Carolina Nonprofits can host raffles. (c) A nonprofit organization may hold no more than four raffles per year. (d) Except as provided in subsection (g) of this section, the maximum cash prize that may be offered or paid for any one raffle is one hundred twenty‑five thousand dollars ($125,000) and if merchandise is used as a prize, and it is not redeemable for cash, the maximum fair market value of that prize may be one hundred twenty‑five thousand dollars ($125,000). The total cash prizes offered or paid by any nonprofit organization shall not exceed two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) in any calendar year. The total fair market value of all prizes offered by any nonprofit organization, either in cash or in merchandise that is not redeemable for cash, shall not exceed two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) in any calendar year.(e) Raffles shall not be conducted in conjunction with bingo. Yes Unclear
North Dakota Nonprofits can apply to hold raffles. - Local permits are the responsibility of the city or county. - If your organization’s prizes will exceed the primary prize limit of $8,000 and/or exceed the $40,000 maximum per year, you must apply for a State Gaming License. Yes $175.00 per license.
Ohio Nonprofits can conduct raffles. All 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to hold raffles and no license or report is required. No $0.00
Oklahoma Nonprofits can holf raffles. All nonprofit organizations are permitted to hold raffles and no license or report is required. No $0.00
Oregon Raffles are legal for nonprofits in Oregon. - Only organizations exempt from paying federal income taxes may conduct charitable gaming events in Oregon. - You need a license unless you’re holding raffles with a cumulative handle of no more than $10,000 per calendar year. No $40.00 - $100.00
Pennsylvania Eligible non-profit organizations can hold raffles. To be granted a games of chance license in Pennsylvania, your nonprofit needs to be have been working towards fulfilling its purpose for at least one year. Yes (As of May, 2023) - $25.00 (For a monthly license.) - $125.00 (For an annual license.)
Rhode Island Raffles can be conducted by charities. After you complete the application, submit it along with the $5.00 application fee in the form of a check or money order (cash is not accepted) to the Chief of Police in the city/town where the drawing will be held. Yes (As long as the third party platform has been licensed by the Superintendent of Rhode Island) $5.00 per application.
South Carolina Raffles can be held by registered nonprofits. - To conduct a raffle, a nonprofit must file an annual raffle registration form with the Division of Public Charities. - You do not need to register your raffle if prizes have been donated, noncash prize(s) valued at $950.00 or less. OR The raffle must be a fifty-fifty raffle in which the total proceeds do not exceed $950.00. Yes $50.00
South Dakota Raffles can be held by nonprofits. - Your nonprofit raffle must be registered at the county/city level where the drawing is held thirty (30) days before selling tickets. - If tickets are sold state-wide, written notice must also be provided to the South Dakota Secretary of State. Yes $0.00
Tennessee Raffles can be held by registered nonprofits. Only a qualified 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organization that has submitted an application to the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming and has been approved by the Tennessee General Assembly can hold a raffle. No $150.00 - $600.00
Texas Yes! - To host a raffle in Texas you need to be a qualified nonprofit. - You do not have to register or obtain a license or permit to host a raffle in Texas. Unclear $0.00
Utah No. The state of Utah does not allow fundraising raffles. No N/A
Vermont Yes! Nonprofits can hold raffles. - The nonprofit must have been engaged in charitable activities for at least one year. - You do not need a license to host a raffle in Vermont. No $0.00
Virginia Raffles are allowed. To apply, you mush by a nonprofit that has been in existence and met on a regular basis for at least three years prior to applying. Yes (Approval required) $200.00
Washington Nonprofits can host raffles in Washington State. - In the state of Washington not every nonprofit requires a raffle license. - Your nonprofit can host two unlicensed raffles each year as long as the combined gross revenue from the two raffles does not exceed $5,000. Yes (Approval required) $70.00
West Virginia Nonprofits can host raffles. - Your organization must have been in existence in West Virginia for at least one year for a Raffle License. - If your organization does not sell more than $15,000 worth of tickets in any calendar year and does not award any individual prize valued at more than $4,000, you do not need a license. Yes $0.00
Wisconsin Yes! Raffle licenses can only be granted to a local religious, charitable, service, fraternal, veterans, or 501(c)(3) organization in Wisconsin, which have been in existence for at least one (1) year or that is chartered by a state or national organization which has been in existence for at least three (3) years. No $5.00 - $25.00
Wyoming Yes! Nonprofits can hold a raffle in Wyoming. Charitable Gaming licensure is not required on the State level in Wyoming. Unclear $0.00
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