Crowd lines up early for $1 million-plus Queen of Hearts raffle
A Queen of Hearts raffle jackpot has surpassed $1 million with 13 cards left to draw in Randolph County.
The Steeleville American Legion announced Friday that the next drawing for the $1,308,450 jackpot will happen on April 5 at 8 p.m.
In a post on Facebook, American Legion officials said the drawing would have taken place March 29, but was postponed in observance of Maundy.
The post went on to say that the jackpot will be capped at $1.5 million and any money raised after that will be put into the next Queen of Hearts drawing.
Raffle tickets go on sale Friday morning and times to buy tickets are as listed:
- Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
- Sunday from Noon to 1 a.m.
- Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
- Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Those who buy tickets must submit them to the drawing before 7 p.m. April 5.
The American Legion will be closed Easter Sunday, so tickets will not be available that day.
The post said Gary Woods won the 50/ 50 with a “Blueberry Blue“ raffle ticket and won $7,644 during the last Queen of Hearts drawing.
The Steeleville Legion’s Queen of Hearts has topped $400,000 in the past, which was more than 15 times the maximum raffle jackpot limit of $25,000.
The limit has since been raised to $1.5 million with required applications and surety bonds, according to the Randolph County Herald Tribune.
A News-Democrat investigation in November found that at least a dozen such raffles might be operating in violation of state law, or at least city ordinances that are required in order to issue raffle licenses. State law states those ordinances must have a maximum prize amount, but some games were being operated without a license, or the ordinances themselves did not comply with state requirements.
The Aviston Queen of Hearts ran for more than 40 weeks and hit more than $1 million before half the jackpot was finally won. It had a license, but organizers never filled out an application. Two Queen of Hearts raffles in Breese were operating on licenses with "verbal applications," and Nashville's raffle ran four times despite no raffle ordinance in the city. In 2016, a VFW Queen of Hearts in Morris reached $1.6 million, and was shut down hours before the drawing.'
A recently passed ordinance in Shiloh puts $250,000 cap on the maximum amount of prizes that can be given away, and only $100,000 to a single winner. Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier said the new ordinance "better mirrors state statute."
Previously, the cap on the maximum amount of prizes totaled $100,000, and the individual earnings was set at $50,000. Permit fees were previously $2, but now will go up to $25.
The city of Highland discussed a raffle ordinance that would call for a $500 license fee per raffle, fidelity and performance bonds, and a winnings cap of $1 million as well as a maximum number of chances sold. The council passed this ordinance on March5.
Dana Rieck: 618-239-2642, @ByDanaRieck