Raffles in Illinois: The Raffle and Poker Run Act

Illinois Regulates Gambling Including Raffles

Raffles in Illinois

In Illinois, gambling is tightly regulated. The Criminal Code forbids all forms of gambling except for the ones it specifically allows. It permits video gaming as per the provisions of the Video Gaming Act, riverboat gambling as per the provisions of the Riverboat Gambling Act, and the State-run lottery as per the provisions of the Illinois Lottery Law.

Similarly, it allows raffles and poker runs, but only if conducted as per the provisions of the Raffles and Poker Run Act. This means that your raffle or poker run, even if conducted for charity, must operate according to the rules the Act sets forth. Otherwise you’re breaking the law.

Presumably, like any sensible person, you’d rather avoid problems with the law. To that end, here’s what you need to know about the Raffles and Poker Run Act.

You Need a License for Your Raffle

Every Illinois raffle must be licensed. If it isn’t, it’s automatically illegal.

Generally speaking, only the following groups are eligible to organize a raffle or poker run: nonprofit charitable, religious, fraternal, veterans, educational, business, or labor groups.

State law empowers authorizes local government to issue the licenses for raffles and to establish its own ordinances controlling how they operate. So while everyone must adhere to the strictures of the Raffles and Poker Run Act, additional procedures and stipulations may vary depending on where you live.

The Raffle and the License Application Process

When you apply for a raffle license, you’ll have to meet certain basic requirements. One is that the entire net proceeds of the raffle must go to the lawful purposes of the nonprofit entity receiving the license. Another is a sworn statement signed by the presiding officer and secretary of the applicant vouching for the nonprofit nature of the group.

Your Illinois Raffle: Caveats

Some businesses allow third parties to conduct raffles and poker runs on their premises. If yours is one of them, and even if, to your eyes, the group is clearly a benevolent nonprofit, it’s worth checking to make sure the raffle has a proper license.

By the same token, make sure that any raffle is being conducted in accordance with all requirements whether State or local. Even if it doesn’t appear that the rules will be enforced, obey them anyway. You don’t want to be the one violator who got caught.

You especially don’t want to get caught in noncompliance if the Illinois Gaming Board has licensed your establishment to be a slot machine business. You could lose your Illinois gaming license.

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