Some nonprofit organizations are permitted to hold certain gaming activities in order to fundraise. They are allowed to hold raffles, defined as "an arrangement for raising money by the sale of tickets, certain among which, as determined by chance after the sale, entitle the holders to prizes."
The law requires that the promotion and operation of the raffle be limited only to the qualified members of the sponsoring organization and no such member shall receive compensation in any form for their time or effort devoted to the promotion and operation of such raffle. In addition, all raffle proceeds must be used for educational, charitable, religious, fraternal or civic purposes or for veterans' benefits.
Only certain organizations can hold raffles
Only a veterans, church or religious, fraternal or fraternal benefit society, educational or charitable, civic or service club, or other club or organization operated exclusively for nonprofit purposes may hold a raffle. This means:
- a for-profit entity cannot hold a raffle for itself or for a nonprofit; and
- an individual cannot hold a raffle.
The organization must be organized and actively functioning as a nonprofit in Massachusetts for at least two years. This means the organization cannot:
- organize one week and have a raffle the next week; and
- be incorporated or otherwise organized in another state.
If the organization is a public charity, in order to hold a raffle it must be registered with the AGO and in compliance with the reporting requirements.The law exempts the American National Red Cross, the Grand Army of the Republic, American Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, Vietnam Veterans of America, AMVETS, the United Spanish War Veterans, the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans of the World War, Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and organizations that hold property held for any religious purpose, whether incorporated or unincorporated, from having to register with the AGO. These organizations still need to follow the law and regulations in order to hold a raffle.
The public charity must also be in possession of a Certificate of Solicitation. If the public charity is unable to document its compliance with the reporting and certificate requirements, it should contact the AGO's Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division.