Raffle rules changing?

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A charity lottery or raffle is a tried and true method to raise money for good causes, from supporting local food banks or homeless shelters to education programs and helping members of the U.S. military.

They work by reaching an audience of supporters who generally don’t give donations, but like the chance of winning a prize in addition to supporting a cause they care about.

For example, the Vegas Golden Knights franchise offers a 51/49 raffle at every home game.

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Tickets start at $10 for 5 up to $100 for 300, with one lucky participant winning 51 percent of the proceeds from the raffle, and 49 percent going to the Golden Knights Foundation to fund a number of Southern Nevada charities.  

But now Nevada gambling regulators are considering who can participate in charitable games and lotteries and other rule changes. Following a workshop, the Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended amendments to Regulation 4A, which oversee games of chance to raise money for charitable causes.

The Nevada Gaming Commission is scheduled to take up those amendments later this month after they recently deferred action on the amendments required following the passage of Assembly Bill 117 in May. The five-member commission last month did clarify that a $500,000 limit on the amount that nonprofits could raise applied to the maximum prize allowable to game participants, not a cap on the amount that a charity could raise. 

That distinction was made amid questions about how the proposed regulatory changes would or could impact the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation’s efforts to raise money for local charities on game nights.

The new regulations clarify who can participate in and offer charitable games and lotteries, a form of incentivized gaming which makes it more likely to draw donations from those who may not have otherwise. AB 117 also called for a refund requirement in advertised prizes, and a restriction of online ticket sales to purchasers physically located in Nevada.

The bill requires regulators to adopt regulations providing a procedure so nonprofits can appeal the denial of approval to operate a charitable lottery, and establish the fees a qualified organization must pay the control board when registering to offer a charitable lottery or game. 

Gaming regulators will also deal with potentially increasing the penalty for unauthorized lotteries, and a new age requirement to participate in charitable lotteries.  

Last week, the NGCB took the first step and approved several amendments to Regulation 4A. 

The most controversial proposal was age restrictions on who could participate in a raffle. A draft regulation under consideration would have prohibited those under 21 from playing any charitable game, and those under 18 from entering from any charitable lottery, with a few exemptions. 

Executives with nonprofits argued that age restrictions would hurt their membership rates and outreach.

Pat Pinjuv, president of Nevada Bighorn Unlimited, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the state’s wildlife, said his group sells dinner ticket to both adults and those under 18.

“The adult tickets get entered into a door prize raffle and the youth tickets are placed in a separate raffle dedication to a special prize for them,” Pinjuv wrote in a letter submitted to the NGCB. 

“We believe this is a common practice throughout the various conservation groups statewide that could now be interpreted as illegal under the proposed (age) regulation,” said Pinjuv, adding that other games and raffles that all attendees can participate in during the event would now be illegal. Pinjuv asked regulators to delete the proposed age restrictions. 

Les Smith, Nevada regional director with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said the youth who attend their events are “the future of wildlife conservation and our best hope for the wild places and wild creatures in the state.”

“So, we offer youth raffles and games at nearly all our events,” Smith said. “These raffles and games are designed to make the banquets a fun experience and give our young attendees a chance to take something home.”

Nevada gaming regulators also received letters of concern from other outdoors organizations, including Ducks Unlimited, and the Nevada Waterfowl Association. 

Nonprofits and charitable organizations weren’t successful in getting regulators to eliminate all age restrictions on raffles and charitable lotteries. Instead, the NGCB on Thursday unanimously passed a motion that would allow those under 18 to participate in charitable lotteries and raffles if a parent or legal guardian purchases the tickets for them.

The control board did vote to eliminate a section regarding age requirements in their amendments to Regulation 4A to the commission.  

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