Metro-East News

Steeleville Queen of Hearts jackpot reaches $1.5 million — winner guaranteed next week

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.

A Queen of Hearts jackpot has topped out at $1.5 million in Steeleville — and officials say someone is guaranteed to win at next Thursday's 8 p.m. drawing.

"We’ll select a Queen of Hearts raffle ticket until the Queen of Hearts is discovered," the American Legion's Facebook post stated. "If the first person selects a card and that’s the Queen of Hearts and that person is present that person will win the $1.5 million and the raffle is over."

If they don't select the queen of hearts, that person will still win $500. If a person's name is drawn but they are not there, they will win $250.

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.

There are 11 cards left in this drawing, officials wrote.

Kimberleigh DeBose picked the no. 30 slot this week and revealed the King of Spades. She won $520. David Shoemaker won the 50/ 50 with a “Hot Hot Pink“ raffle ticket and he won $9,820.

The American Legion is located at 303 S Chester St. in Steeleville and Queen of Hearts tickets can purchased until 7 p.m. the night of the drawing.

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.

Dana Rieck: 618-239-2642, @ByDanaRieck
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