In light of at least a dozen metro-east Queen of Hearts raffles not being in accordance with the state's Raffles and Poker Runs Act last year, the village trustees passed a new updated lottery raffle ordinance that "better mirrors state statute," according to John Marquart, village administrator.
During a committee meeting Monday night, trustees voted unanimously to put a $250,000 cap on the maximum amount of prizes that can be given away, and only $100,000 to a single winner during its village committee meeting Monday night.
"It better defines the type of organization that can sponsor a raffle, increases the amount of possible single and aggregate winnings from the raffle and increases the amount that the sponsor can charge for a single ticket where the potential prize has significant value," Marquart said.
Shiloh trustees will cast final votes on the ordinance March 5, during the regular monthly board meeting.
Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier said the previous ordinance was in compliance with state law, but updating is a "smart move."
"We just want to do some things to update it and bring it into the 21st century," he said.
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, Vernier said.
Marquart said some prizes may include cars or vacation packages in addition to cash prizes, which will all be included in the new $250,000 capped prize total.
A recent Belleville News-Democrat investigation revealed local municipalities often have a hard time implementing the game correctly, due to their convoluted structure.
Lottery raffles like the Queen of Hearts game have become popular in the metro-east due to its ability to draw large jackpots.
Commonly, each player buys a $1 ticket to get a shot at the jackpot. Drawings usually happen once a week. At that time, a randomly chosen player picks a card, and if it is the queen of hearts, they win.
A jackpot in Aviston reached $1.09 million in November. When drawings get that high, they have potential to draw big crowds to small areas, which has raised concerns for Shiloh trustees.
"Where would we put the people in our community? Aviston is at least a grid community, so everyone can park on side streets, but of course it was a nightmare for that community," Vernier said.
Local churches have transported participants by bus to the raffle locations in other communities like Aviston when parking issues arise.
Shiloh trustee Greg O'Neil said a $43,000 lottery raffle was recently held at the Shiloh Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 545 off Lebanon Avenue at 100 Eagles Dr., which sits at the bottom of a dead-end road.
"We need to talk about corralling these people (attending) these things," O'Neil said.
He was at the Eagles Aerie 545 event and said, "it went from packed to really packed quick."
Vernier said that if the lottery raffle pot had increased much more the parking situation could have become an issue.
“Because it's on a dead-end street. If it was on a grid pattern like some of these smaller communities, it's not as bad," Vernier said.
Marquart and other trustees concurred that while it's "a good money maker" for local organizations a cap still needs to be implemented within the village.
"It becomes a burden on the police department to be out there on the night that they're drawing the winning tickets where you're talking about a single awards that could be $300,000 to $400,000 — they'll be parking everywhere, so we understand these raffles are starting to get larger in terms of values so that's why we took a look at what we have and adjusted those numbers upwards, but then again not to go so high that you aren't able to control the location," Marquart said.
Ordinance terms include:
- First, a permit must be obtained by a "bona fide" religious, charitable, labor, business, fraternal, education or veterans' organizations that operate without profit to their members.
- The organization must have been in existence continuously and had goal-oriented membership engagement for at least five years.
- The raffle license application must be submitted at least 14 days prior to the sale of any raffle chances. Within that period, the village clerk will either issue an approval or denial.
- The fee is $25 for a license application to conduct one raffle.
- The application must include: Information for raffle sale period; maximum price; authorized representative; names and addresses of officers and directors; the area or areas within village where raffle tickets are sold; and the time of determination of winning chances and where raffle will be held and when.
- No more than six raffle licenses will be issued to any one organization in any calendar year.
- The aggregate retail value of all prizes and merchandise awarded by a licensee in any one raffle will not exceed $250,000.
- The maximum retail value of each prize by a licensee in a single raffle will not exceed $100,000.
- The village board may authorize a higher aggregate retail value or retail value of a single prize upon a written request by an applicant.
Trustee Kurt Burrelsman asked at a previous meeting what would happen if an organization hosting a lottery raffle game were to reach the capped amount before a winner is chosen.
Vernier said, "I would think they would have to come up with a policy, but I think the easy way to do is when you reach the maximum amount on the prizes, is to draw until there's a winner."