Disclaimer: This article offers general information and is not intended as legal or professional advice. You should consult with legal counsel regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current as of January 17, 2022, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject discussed.
Charitable gaming events like raffles are some of the best ways to raise both awareness and money for an organization. With a great balance of low cost, easy implementation, and wide appeal, charitable gaming can be a great idea for any nonprofit. Depending on the U.S state you intend to fundraise in, online and offline charitable gaming can be a great tool to drive cost-effective community engagement, thus making it an attractive option for nonprofits, charities, and foundations.
Charitable gaming and raffles regulatory guidance for Florida
How does Florida define charitable gaming?
Nonprofit organizations may conduct raffles—so-called, “drawings by chance” as long as strict disclosure rules are followed (these are spelled out in Florida Statute 849.0935(3)).
Overview of regulatory guidance for online charitable gaming-based fundraisers in Florida
Are charitable on-site electronic and online raffles legal in Florida?
Florida law is silent on the legality of operating online or electronic raffles.
What types of lottery programs can be run in Florida?
Florida authorizes “drawings by chance” as a charitable fundraiser. “Drawing by chance,” “drawing,” or “raffle” includes 50/50 raffles, progressive “Catch the Ace” raffles, and standard raffles.
Can raffle/lottery tickets be sold online for charitable fundraisers in Florida?
Presently, Florida state law does not explicitly prohibit the sale of raffle tickets online.
Who can conduct charitable gaming-based raffle events in Florida
Based on the 2021 Florida Statute 849.0935, an organization which is exempt from federal income taxation pursuant to 26 U.S.C. s. 501(c)(3), (4), (7), (8), (10), or (19), and which has a current determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and its bona fide members or officers can conduct a charitable gaming-based raffle event in Florida.
Any proceeds raised from such events must be donated by the organizer to further one of the above-mentioned causes (charitable, civic, community, benevolent, religious, or scholastic works). It is also worth noting that such events may not be carried out on school property, even if the event is being run by—and raising money for—a school.
Licensing and registration requirements for online charitable raffles in Florida
Do you need a license to run a charitable raffle in Florida?
The state of Florida requires no special license for operating charitable gaming as gambling is generally illegal in Florida. However, the organizations exempt from federal income taxation pursuant to 26 U.S.C. s. 501(c)(3), (4), (7), (8), (10), or (19), and those with a current determination letter from the IRS, and its bona fide members or officers are exempt from the illegal gambling law.
It is important to note, however, that it is illegal to “require an entry fee, donation, substantial consideration, payment, proof of purchase, or contribution as a condition of entering the drawing or of being selected to win a prize.” However, it is possible to request a “minimum donation” so long as this information is clearly labeled.
Individual counties may have their own unique requirements. Here’s an overview of the requirements for the top five counties (by population size):
- Miami-Dade County does not require any licenses for charitable gaming.
- Broward County and Palm Beach County have no specific regulations regarding charitable gaming.
- Hillsborough County requires approval from the Director of the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department for nonprofit groups to run a charity gaming event such as raffles.
- Orange County follows the same laws as laid out in the state of Florida statutes.
Do note that there are still several disclosure requirements for operating charity gaming-based lotteries in Florida. All raffles must fully disclose:
1. The rules governing the conduct and operation of the drawing.
2. The full name of the organization and its principal place of business.
3. The source of the funds used to award cash prizes or to purchase prizes.
4. The date, hour, and place where the winner will be chosen and the prizes will be awarded, unless the brochures, advertisements, notices, tickets, or entry blanks are not offered to the public more than 3 days prior to the drawing.
5. That no purchase or contribution is necessary.
Types of charitable raffle licenses
The state of Florida does not require or grant licenses for charitable raffles. However, the charity or nonprofit must be registered under Solicitation of Funds Statute (Ch 496 F.S.) through Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Service.The registration is renewed annually and if the gross annual revenue is under $25K there is a different registration application.
Can Ascend assist with running an online raffle-based fundraiser in Florida?
Yes, Ascend can assist nonprofits and charitable organizations with running an online raffle-based fundraiser in Florida.
Not following specified government guidelines for charitable gaming can be an expensive affair and a criminal offense. To resolve any queries or concerns about the legality of running a raffle in your state, it’s always advisable to consult a lawyer who has experience in the subject.