Measure would govern local lotteries
By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
Village leaders will take a closer look at how raffles are held and regulated in Plainfield, following in the footsteps of other municipalities hoping to stop chance games from getting out of hand.
On Nov. 27, village trustees took a first look at a draft ordinance on raffles, during a Committee of the Whole meeting.
The issue came to light after a summertime Queen of Hearts raffle at the VFW Post 6049 in Morris expanded to a winning jackpot of $1.6 million. The state gaming board stepped in, telling the VFW that they needed a city-issued license to sell tickets, a requirement by state law. But, Morris had no ordinance on the books for such a license, which caused the raffle to be suspended for one month until the city could get an ordinance drafted and passed.
Plainfield also currently has no raffle ordinance in place.
Trustees took a look at a first draft of a raffle ordinance, designed combining elements of the state’s rules on raffles, as well as those in place in Morris and Romeoville.
“Our specific goal was to keep it as simplified as possible, not to make it too complicated because, as probably many of you are aware, we are trying to not only license the raffles and regulate them to a certain extent, but at the same time, not wanting to infringe on raffles that might be engaged in by some of our schools’ organizations,” Plainfield Legal Counsel Joan Meyers told board members. “The draft ordinance…does encompass all raffles in the village, but we may want to take some time to consider limited the ordinance so that it only applies to possibly non-for-profit organizations or maybe limits the licensing aspect of it so that it is only related to possibly raffles where the prizes are over a certain amount.”
The draft proposal corresponds with the state’s raffles act, and defines a raffle as a lottery, as defined by state statute, in which the players agree to purchase a chance, and the winning chance is to be determined via a drawing, or some other method based on an element of chance. The winning chance may not be determined by the outcome of a publicly exhibited sporting contest.
Any person wishing to conduct or operate a raffle, or sell, offer to sell, convey a chance in a raffle, must first obtain the appropriate license from the village.
The ordinance creates two raffle license classifications:
Class A General License – permits licensee to hold a raffle, good for 90 days
Class B Annual License – permits regularly, weekly conducted raffles over a one-year period
The draft ordinance includes a $25 application fee, and permit prices of $50 for a Class A permit, and $100 for a Class B permit.
Per the draft ordinance, the aggregate retail value of all prizes awarded in a single raffle may not exceed $2.5 million, and the maximum price per chance is $1,000.
Trustees engaged in a lengthy discussion on the proposal, noting that they’d like to see the raffle ordinance give some consideration to schools or charitable organizations that might hold 50/50 raffles with a total payout of only a few hundred dollars.
“I do think it’s quite restrictive, only because, if we look at the Plainfield Junior Women’s Club, and we look at the Lions Club and all the charities and the 501(c)3 organizations, we could carve them out,” said Trustee Cally Larson. “But, we still have businesses I think that, let’s say a paramedic or an officer or an individual in our community is injured, and the community comes together and does a split the pot raffle, that could easily go in excess [of a limit] that goes to a great cause that goes back to our community. So, I don’t want to see us get so restrictive that we possibly hurt something that is trying to do good. However, when we get into the Queen of Hearts situations, I think we do need to provide some regulation around that.”
Other board members said they’d like to see a carve out in the ordinance for schools, and set a limit so that raffles with lower values be exempt from getting a permit.
“I’m not opposed to the raffle [ordinance] as long as we can keep the kids and the athletic organizations out of it,” said Trustee Brian Wojowski.
“Somebody has to be minding the store,” added Trustee Margie Bonuchi. “I do agree that we need an ordinance, but, I’m not going to manage somebody though with $1,000 50/50 [raffle]. I think that is too much. But I think the bigger amounts, I think we start getting into serious money, somebody needs to be watching who is running it and how it’s going, just for the sake of fairness.”
The general consensus of the board was that while the draft needs tweaks, the plan to add the rule is a good one.
“Overall, the ordinance, I think, as written, is a good way to fill up a gap,” said Mayor Mike Collins. “We’re not regulating these now and we probably should, to protect the residents to make sure it’s not being abused.”
Village staff will look at options requested by the board and make changes to the draft ordinance and bring that back to the committee for discussion at a future date.