Craddick files legislation to clarify raffle act for charities

On Tuesday, Rep. Tom Craddick (Midland) filed House Bill 457 to amend the Charitable Raffle act to clarify that qualified organizations who host charitable raffles may promote the raffle in their E-mail newsletters and Internet websites."In 1989, voters chose to allow non-profit organizations to conduct raffles for charity purposes. However, when the Texas Legislature wrote this law in 1989, we didn't have things like Internet websites, E-mail newsletters, or Facebook pages to consider," Craddick said. "Today organizations have more resources and tools available to promote and organize a successful raffle that will raise funds to benefit their worthy cause. There should be no question in the law that organizations can inform their supporters that a raffle is going on through their newsletter, electronic newsletters or existing website."House Bill 457 will amend the Charitable Raffle Act for qualified organizations to legally promote an upcoming raffle to its supporters through the organization's Internet website, newsletter publication, E-mail newsletters, or social media outlets. The law will continue to restrict an organization from paying for advertising."Charitable raffles have been used by churches, civic clubs, veterans groups, volunteer fire departments and other non-profit groups for years. It is now commonplace for charities and non-profits to communicate with their supporters on their Internet website or Facebook pages and through E-mail blasts," Craddick stated. "These organizations may not be aware that putting an ad on their Internet website about their upcoming raffle may be considered illegal.""The fact is that most district attorneys turn a blind eye when they get an E-mail newsletter from their local volunteer firefighter group that contains a raffle promotion because it could be considered a statewide promotion," Craddick continued. "To me, it seems logical to assume that charity groups would want to tell their supporters about their raffle using these available technological means and the law should be clear about allowing such efforts or not."Under Chapter 2002 of the Texas Occupations Code, organizations are not able to sell or offer to sell raffle tickets statewide. House Bill 457 would allow an exception for groups to promote or advertise statewide to previously identified supporters of the organization on the organization’s Internet website or through a publication or solicitation, including a newsletter, social media, or electronic mail. If adopted, House Bill 457 will not allow groups that promote a raffle on their Internet website to actually sell raffle tickets over the Internet.In addition, the law also strictly prohibits a professional raffle operator from making money from a charitable raffle. However, as the law is written, it is unclear whether an employee of the organization can assist in organizing the raffle.  House Bill 457 will clarify the statute to ensure a member of the organization who is employed by the organization may organize and conduct a raffle, but may not be hired solely for that purpose.