Metro-East News

Still no winner as Steeleville Queen of Hearts jackpot reaches $1.4 million

Queen of Hearts raffles take Southern Illinois by storm

File video: The Nashville American Legion had one of the area's first big pots. Now the Steeleville American Legion's jackpot has passed $1.4 million.
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File video: The Nashville American Legion had one of the area's first big pots. Now the Steeleville American Legion's jackpot has passed $1.4 million.

Steeleville's Queen of Hearts raffle is still going strong and has reached a $1.4 million jackpot.

The drawing at the Steeleville American Legion is at 8 p.m. every Thursday, and those hoping to enter must be at least 21 years old. Raffle tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday and can be bought until 7 p.m. Thursday.

Tickets are one for $1, six for $5 or 15 for $10.

12 cards are left in the drawing, including the queen of hearts. If the person called does not choose the queen, they win $500. If it is the queen, they get the jackpot. To win the entire jackpot, the ticket-holder must be present.

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.

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