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Raffles Now Legal for Non-Profit Organizations

Churches, schools, fire departments, senior citizens groups and other non-profit organizations can once again use raffles for fundraising without fear of breaking the law according to Senator Frank Shurden, a Democrat from Henryetta.

“I’ve been working for years so that non-profit groups could use raffles for fundraising. The only way we could make raffles legal again was to tie the legislation to State Question 705, The Oklahoma Educational Lottery Act,” he said.

Sen. Shurden and State Representative Don Armes (R-Faxon) authored Senate Bill 837 in 2003 to make raffles legal for non-profit organizations, after an Attorney General’s opinion had deemed that raffles were Class 3 Gaming and illegal in Oklahoma. When State Question 705 was certified by the State Election Board as passing this month, it made Class 3 Gaming legal in Oklahoma and the legislation legalizing raffles also became effective on November 9.

“Our youth organizations like 4-H, high school bands, churches, fire departments and senior citizen centers across this state needed a way to raise money. They had to stop using fundraisers like drawings for quilts or a side of beef when the Attorney General’s opinion deemed raffles illegal,” the lawmaker added.

“Those that participated in these raffles usually gave a dollar here or a dollar there because the money was going to a worthwhile cause,” Sen. Shurden said. “They were not doing it to gamble.”

Rep. Armes (R-Faxon) added that he was happy to be the house author of Senate Bill 837 because it was common sense legislation.

“Non-profit groups throughout Oklahoma should have the right to conduct fundraisers without fearing that their actions are illegal.” Armes said. “Raffles should have never been considered illegal and the language in this bill allows them to be legal again, its just common sense legislation.”

Senator Johnnie Crutchfield, Senate co-author of the bill and a Democrat from Ardmore, added the law prevents groups from hiring an outside organization to conduct the raffle.

“This part of the bill is important because we want all the money raised to go directly to the organization conducting the raffle, not some outside group that automatically takes a portion of the money simply to conduct the process.” Sen. Crutchfield explained.

State Representative Joe Dorman, a Democrat from Rush Springs and co-author of the bill, added that is important for groups across the state to be aware that raffles have once again become legal in Oklahoma.

“I have had several school superintendents in my district call me inquiring about the status of this legislation. I am pleased to let them know raffles are now legal and they can begin fundraising without any hesitation.” Dorman said.

“Any time you have a delay in effective dates for legislation, and especially a two year delay in this particular instance, it can create some confusion. So I hope by making the public aware that Senate Bill 837 is now effective, we can eliminate some of that confusion.” Sen. Shurden said.