State law governs most forms of gambling, including raffles. Some states allow nonprofit organizations to raise money by selling raffle tickets, but no state allows individuals or for-profit groups to conduct raffles.
Raffles for Profit
If an individual, for-profit group or government entity conducts a contest that requires participants to buy a ticket, the contest is considered a lottery. Some states permit state-run lotteries, but private lotteries are generally prohibited.
Read More: Legal Issues of Online Raffles for Nonprofit Fundraising
Bans on Raffles
Arkansas, Hawaii and Kansas prohibit raffles of any kind.
Even states that permit raffles impose restrictions. Check state law (see Resources below) and local ordinances for those that apply in your community.
While many charitable organizations conduct online raffles, their legality is unclear. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 prohibits certain online gambling activities but leaves the definition of those activities to the states.
It may be possible to raffle off something you own if you partner with a nonprofit organization. The organization must own the item at the time of the raffle. Consult an attorney to determine the legality of this option in your state.
Kate Fogle, an attorney and former English teacher, is the communications director for a non-profit agency in Stockton, Calif. Prior to recent articles on eHow.com, her writing has been published in-house for professional purposes. Fogle is a graduate of UC Davis with a JD from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall.