In the United States, each state has its own set of definitions and laws that dictate what is considered a raffle, which organizations are permitted to host a raffle, and what is required to legally host a raffle.
Yes, the first raffle you host can be time consuming and confusing, but all the time and energy invested is ultimately worth it. (Some of the biggest campaigns on Zeffy are raffles. AKA raffles raise a lot of money for the nonprofits that host them.) Plus, raffles are a great way to mix up your fundraising campaign portfolio and, as an added bonus, attract new donors to your nonprofit.
Okay, let’s get started.
The state of New York’s Charitable Gaming Division defines a nonprofit raffle as:
… games in which a participant pays money in return for a ticket or other receipt and a prize is awarded on the basis of a randomly selected winning number(s), color(s), or symbol(s) designated on the ticket or receipt.
Can nonprofits host raffles in New York?
To host a raffle in the state of New York, you need to be an authorized charitable organization (nonprofit) that has been serving its community for at least three years before applying for a license.
If you’re wondering if your nonprofit qualifies as “authorized”, here are a few examples:
- Religious or charitable organizations
- Educational, fraternal or service organizations
- Veterans, volunteer firefighters or volunteer ambulance workers
Good to know:
- As of June 9, 2022, New York now allows nonprofits to host raffles both in person and online.
- All raffle ticket sales need to take place in the municipality of your organization or in a municipality within a neighbouring county. (As long as the two counties share a border and you have written consent on a RCF-Raffle Consent Form to sell raffle tickets within the county.)
- Raffle tickets can be sold by a member of an authorized organization 18 years of age or older.
How does a nonprofit register for a raffle in New York?
Step one: Apply for a Games of Chance ID Number for your nonprofit.
If your organization is authorized, you will receive a Games of Chance License on form GC-5 from the clerk. (You do not need to fill this form out.)
Step two: Apply to sell your nonprofit's raffle tickets online.
Once you have received your GC-5 form from the clerk with your Games of Chance ID Number on it, you can apply to sell your raffle tickets online.
You need to submit an Internet/Mobile Raffle Ticket Sales application at least 60 days before you start selling any raffle tickets. And, for some reason, you need to fill out and submit one form for for every raffle you host.
You have to complete and submit the Internet/Mobile Raffle Ticket Sales application regardless of which category your organization falls into. (See the next section.)
Nonprofit raffle categories in New York.
When applying for your Games of Chance Identification Number, you need to select either category 1 or 2 on your application form.
If you think all your raffle(s) for the entire calendar year will net at least $30,000 or between $5,000 and $29,999 for any one raffle, select Category 1.
You do not need to apply for a license or submit a financial report for individual raffles with anticipated net proceeds under $5,000 or under $30,000 for all raffles within a calendar year.
Can nonprofit's sell raffle tickets online in New York using Zeffy’s ticketing forms?
Yes you can! (Yes, we are absolutely excited about this!)
You will need to complete and submit the Internet/Mobile Raffle Ticket Sales application. The form is pretty straightforward. However, sections 10 through 17 might be a bit tricky. Reach out to us if you have any questions and we'll do our best to help you through them.
What needs to appear on your nonprofit's raffle tickets in New York.
50/50 raffle tickets:
Each part of a two part “admission-style” ticket used in for a 50/50 raffle needs to show an identical, consecutively printed ticket number to verify the winning ticket.
Raffle tickets in the state of New York need to clearly display the following information:
- The name and Games of Chance Identification Number (if you have one) of the authorized organization.
- The location(s), date(s) and time(s) of the drawing(s).
- The consecutively printed serial number of the ticket.
- The price of the ticket.
- A list of the prizes offered.
- The statement: “Ticket holders need not be present to win”.
- Each ticket stub or receipt shall show the name, address and telephone number of the ticket purchaser, and the consecutively printed serial number of the ticket.
We’ve whipped up an a example to give you a better idea:
Does it cost anything for a nonprofit to register for a lottery in New York?
Plus, if you fall into Category 1, an additional license fee of 2% of the reported net raffle proceeds over $30,000 may need to be paid to the municipal clerk (or county fiscal officer).
There is no additional license fee paid on the first $30,000 derived in net raffle proceeds. So, if your raffle earned $35,000, your nonprofit would need to pay an additional license fee of $100. (2% of $5,000.)
After the raffle…
Your work doesn’t end when the last ticket stub is drawn. In New York, if your nonprofit falls into Raffle Category 1 you need to file a financial statement of raffle operations on Form GC-7R with the municipal clerk and the Commission by January 30th of the following year.
Here’s a recap of all the links and documents mentioned in this article:
GC-2 Application for Games of Chance License (GC-2, 2A and 2B must always be filed together.)
GC-2A Application for Games of Chance License (GC-2, 2A and 2B must always be filed together.)
GC-2B Application for Games of Chance License (GC-2, 2A and 2B must always be filed together.)
GC-RCF: Raffle Consent Form (If you want to host a raffle outside of your municipality.)
If you need them: charitable lottery licence laws for other US states.