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 November 29, 2021, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject discussed.
Charity gaming can be one of the best ways to raise awareness of an organization while also raising money for a worthy cause. Events like raffles and sweepstakes can be an effective blend of low cost and high yield for any nonprofit. Nearly every state allows for charitable gaming to some degree, including neighbors Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada.
Currently, the state of Utah does not allow for charitable gaming of any kind. This, however, is slated to change pending the passage of current legislation.
Charitable gaming and raffles regulatory guidance for Utah
How does the state of Utah define charitable gaming?
Under current state law, no form of gambling is allowed in Utah. This includes online and offline gaming for charity or fundraising purposes. This includes all forms of raffles, lotteries, sweepstakes, bingo, or pull-tabs. Charity raffles are often held regardless, under the title of “opportunity drawings” by relying on an old legal ruling. However, these always run the risk of colliding with state and local law enforcement.
Will Utah legalize charitable raffles?
Most likely, yes. In March 2020, Senate Bill 242 was introduced to the Utah state legislature. The purpose of this bill is to formally legalize charitable raffles for fundraising purposes. The new bill would define a "raffle" as "a scheme for the distribution of goods, services, or monetary rewards, awarded by chance to individuals who pay money, or provide some other form of value in exchange for a ticket." Under the proposed bill, 90 percent of the revenues from the sale of raffle tickets must be used to benefit a charitable purpose.
The text of the bill was subsequently altered to refer to raffles as “drawings” in order to avoid anything that would inadvertently legalize gambling in Utah. Additionally, the bill was amended to include a ban on so-called “fringe gambling devices”. These are defined as:
- A card, token, credit, or product in exchange for anything of value; and
- Along with the card, token, credit, or product, the opportunity to participate in a contest, game, gaming scheme, or sweepstakes with a potential return of money or something of value that is based on an element of chance and not substantially affected by a person's skill, knowledge, or dexterity.
Basically, this refers to things such as poker chips, bingo cards, or any other extra item that may be required to operate the drawing.
As of the writing of this article, the proposed bill has moved to the Utah Senate General Assembly but has not yet been voted on.
Charitable gaming resources for Utah
Utah Department of Revenue
210 N 1950 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84134
Phone: (801) 297-2200
Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development
60 East South Temple, Suite 300, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Phone: (801) 538-8680