The popular Queen of Hearts raffles could soon be allowed in Belleville.
A Queen of Hearts raffle in Caseyville in April produced a winning jackpot of about $485,000 for an East St. Louis man. In December, a Bartelso couple won about $377,000 in a Queen of Hearts raffle in Nashville and in May, a Waterloo woman won more than $100,000 in Evansville.
Belleville City Clerk Jenny Gain Meyer said city officials are discussing a proposal that would allow the Queen of Hearts game with a cap of $500,000 for the winner.
In a related matter on Monday, aldermen voted unanimously to approve a change in the city’s raffle ordinance. They doubled the city’s cap on the retail value all prizes and merchandise you can win in a single raffle from $25,000 to $50,000.
Also, the limit of the retail value of each prize in a single raffle was doubled from $15,000 to $30,000.
To have a raffle, an organization must be one of following types of groups: religious, charitable, labor, fraternal, educational or veterans, according to the city’s code of ordinances. The organization has to be at least five years old before it can obtain a raffle license.
Gain Meyer said the change was made “to make way for organizations such as bands and other not-for-profits that maybe could hold larger prize raffles, such as maybe a car.”
But the changes approved Monday would not accommodate the Queen of Hearts raffle that can last up to 54 weeks. The current ordinance limits raffles to 90 days.
The city’s Ordinance & Legal Review Committee is expected to discuss the Queen of Hearts proposal in an upcoming meeting, Gain Meyer said.
“People like to see that jackpot go and go and it helps the organization,” Gain Meyer said.
Queen of Hearts is a game in which contestants remove playing cards from a board in a series of drawings until someone finds the queen of hearts, the winning card. The pot grows every time that a card other than the queen of hearts is selected.
Gain Meyer said if aldermen approve the Queen of Hearts raffle in Belleville, it would be part of an ordinance specifically allowing the Queen of Hearts game.
She noted that St. Clair County in February approved the games in the unincorporated parts of the county. The St. Clair county rules stipulate that prizes in the drawings won’t be able to exceed $500,000, and tickets can cost no more than $25. Also the raffles can last up to 54 weeks. The Nashville contest that produced of winner of nearly $377,000 lasted 49 weeks.
In other business
The council approved a month-to-month lease on the former Belleville Township office at 111 W. A St. until September for the city’s new General and Community Assistance Department. The city will pay $1,255 a month to Beverly A. Ruser.
In May, the city officially took over the duties of the township but because the City Hall renovations are not yet complete, the General and Community Assistance Department employees will remain in the former township office.
The renovation of City Hall is expected to be finished in September, Mayor Mark Eckert said. The work originally was slated to be finished early this year.
When the city clerk’s and treasurer’s offices move back into City Hall from the Parks & Recreation Department building at 512 W. Main St., the General and Community Assistance Department employees will be able to move into the parks building.