A proposed Kansas constitutional amendment would make it legal for churches, schools, veterans groups and other nonprofit organizations to hold charitable raffles.
The proposal on Tuesday’s ballot would allow a limited kind of gambling as a fundraiser, a practice that’s legal in Missouri and most other states.
The Kansas amendment would permit “a game of chance in which each participant buys a ticket or tickets from a nonprofit organization, with each ticket providing an equal chance to win a prize and the winner being determined by a random drawing.”
Gov. Sam Brownback had vetoed previously legislation on the grounds that such games violated the state constitution. This low-profile amendment would eliminate that barrier.
“It’s great that lawmakers are listening to their constituents and amending an outdated law,” said Luann Feehan, executive director of Nonprofit Connect, an organization of Kansas City area nonprofits.
Nonprofit leaders say that such ticket raffles represent a relatively small percentage of their fundraising.
“This change would help small nonprofits more than the big ones that aren’t doing substantial fundraising through raffles,” said David Renz, a professor at the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Bloch School of Business. “It’s a benign form of fundraising.”
Renz said there was some opposition based on concern that children would be involved in a form of gambling by selling or buying raffle tickets, but he said the Legislature could pass age-based laws covering who could or couldn’t sell tickets.
The Kansas Lottery, for example, doesn’t permit tickets in the state game to be sold to anyone under age 18.
The amendment doesn’t allow nonprofits to contract with professional raffle or lottery companies. It also doesn’t allow the sale of raffle tickets through electronic gambling or vending machines.
When Brownback vetoed the previous legislation, he said he would support limited types of charitable raffles and suggested the Legislature could submit an amendment to make that possible.
Some nonprofit organizations in Kansas have held raffles despite the lack of legal permission. Others have abandoned or never started the practice, pending resolution of the constitutional question.
Supporters of the amendment see raffles and other small fundraising efforts as ways to augment tax dollars for school budgets or reach on-the-spot givers instead of planned donors.
As proposed, the Kansas Department of Revenue would be in charge of regulating nonprofit raffles.