Legal Brief: Raffles and Other Schemes of Chance
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As a brief summary, raffles and other similar activities are governed by Ohio's gambling laws, codified in the Ohio Revised Code in Chapter 2915. While there are obviously several nuances to the gaming laws, including separate provisions for licensed bingo games and even sweepstakes contests, most relevant to the question received by the Office of General Counsel are those involving raffles.
According to 2915.01(CC), a "raffle" means "a form of bingo in which one or more prizes are won by one or more persons who have purchased a raffle ticket. The one or more winners of a raffle are determined by drawing a ticket stub or other detachable section from a receptacle containing ticket stubs or detachable sections corresponding to all tickets sold for the raffle." Thus, there are three core components:
- The purchase of a raffle ticket;
- The selection of a stub or section through a receptacle; and
- The winning of a prize.
The entity conducting the raffle must be a "charitable organization" or other eligible entity under Ohio Rev. Code 2915.092(A), or the conductor of the raffle is subject to the prohibition under Ohio Rev. Code 2915.092 ("no person shall conduct a raffle drawing that is for profit or a raffle drawing that is not for profit"). All raffles or games of chance or schemes of chance conducted must follow the provisions within Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2915 (codes.ohio.gov/orc/2915). For example, unless a student organization is separately incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization, it would be generally prohibited from conducting a raffle to raise money for itself (for more information on games of chance with regard to student organizations, please contact the Center for Student Involvement).
If you have any questions regarding this brief or have another legal issue that you would like to discuss, please call the Office of General Counsel at 330-672-2982 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.