Thursday, May 1, 2008

House Raffle - Legal?

Did you read this week that $100 raffle ticket might get you a $230,000 house? Pretty good deal; right?

It might not be as good a deal as it seems, in spite of front-page promotion in Wednesday's Northwest Herald. It seems to me that no one questioned whether this raffle is legal under Illinois law.

Raffles are generally limited to promotions by only certain categories of sponsors. These categories might include
1. Business (a voluntary organization composed of individuals and businesses who have joined together to advance the commercial, financial, industrial and civil interests of a community);
2. Charitable;
3. Educational;
4. Fraternal; and
5. Labor.

But a raffle by an individual (or couple) trying to unload a house? I think I read of a lawful raffle in another state - possibly, Oregon. But is a raffle of a house legal in Illinois?

Now, maybe it is. If it is, I wish the couple well. And the real estate company which is promoting the raffle on its website.

On the real estate company's website it states "...Tammie (the owner) is hoping the net proceeds will be enough to build a track for the school; if not, the PTO will use the money in any area they see fit." The kicker here is "net proceeds." If she sells 3,000 tickets at $100, that's $300,000. After she pays off her debt on the house, which the newspaper article reported is near foreclosure, a local school might get $25,000.

Therein lies the problem. The purpose of the raffle is to bail out the owner of the property. Maybe the school gets some money, if there is anything left over. This is not how raffles are supposed to work. I can't find the state law on raffles, but I'll bet that it does more than "imply" that raffles should provide a public betterment. Raffles can be run only under certain rules designed to safeguard the public.

If it's not legal, then the sheriff's department needs to act as quickly as it did when it suspected a woman of running an illegal raffle to aid a non-profit organization in McHenry County.


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