Q&A: Do I need a license for a simple raffle in Wisconsin?

raffle license

I volunteer with the parent-teacher organization at my child’s school, and we’re planning a raffle-style fundraiser. One of the parents said we need a license from the state in order to conduct our raffle. Is that true? If it is, what steps do we need to take?

Your parent-teacher organization does need a license for a raffle, but there are different kinds of raffle licenses under Wisconsin law.

Since raffles are considered a form of gambling, the application is made through the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Division of Gaming.

  • In a Class A raffle, tickets may be sold up to 270 days in advance—as well as on the day of the raffle. Pre-printed raffle tickets must include the name/address of the sponsoring organization and its raffle license number; a list of prizes worth more than $1,000, the time and place of the drawing and must stipulate that the buyer does not have to be present to win. The name of each ticket buyer and his or her contact information is written on the ticket stub so winners can be contacted.  

  • In a Calendar Raffle, the organization is required to follow the same guidelines they would for a Class A license. Multiple drawings are sold on a single ticket. They are held on specific days listed on a calendar, and winners must be physically drawn every single day listed.

  • Class B raffle tickets are sold the day of the event and use a generic ticket. Winners do not need to be present to win, but if purchasers give the ticket to another person to claim the prize on their behalf, that person must be present at the drawing.

Each license costs $25 and are valid for one year. Separate applications for Class A and B raffles must be made, even if both are held the same day. Approval takes four to six weeks.

Organizations eligible for holding raffles are religious, veteran, fraternal, service, schools and charitable organizations that are tax-exempt under the Internal Revenue Code.

Documentation needed with the application depends on the type of organization. Also, a license cannot be transferred to another organization or person. Those conducting the raffle may not be paid for the work.

If the raffle license is not used properly and if profits are not used locally, the organization could lose its fundraising privileges permanently. Choose the person who conducts the raffle wisely.

la crosse lawyer napela shimBy Napela Shim, family law attorney at Johns, Flaherty & Collins. For a La Crosse lawyer, call her at 608-784-5678.


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