God Save the Queen’s Raffle: Flossmoor considers regulating royally popular fundraisers

In response to the overwhelming popularity of Queen of Hearts raffles, the Flossmoor village board is considering adjusting the scope of these types of fundraisers that would take place in town.
 

At its Sept. 17 meeting, the board discussed the mechanics and implications of a Queen of Hearts raffle. A progressive-style fundraiser, the jackpot for the raffle can reach into the millions of dollars by attracting hopefuls from surrounding counties.

Just this week, an Illinois woman won $4.2 million in a Queen of Hearts raffle for McHenry VFW Post 4600 that started in 2016. The VFW post kept 20 percent of the pot and 20 percent was rolled over for the next fundraiser, which starts in January. 
 

Organizers actually cut the contest short because its management was draining post and village resources. Uniformed police officers were sometimes needed to control traffic and lines of anxious ticket-buyers. 
 

These are the types of negative effects Flossmoor village board members are looking to avoid if more Queen of Hearts raffles come to Flossmoor. The H-F High School Foundation is currently running a Queen of Hearts raffle, with the next drawing on Wednesday, Sept. 26. 
 

The raffle benefits the H-F Foundation, the H-F Fine and Performing Arts Council supporting music students trips overseas and the Flossmoor Service League. Tickets are sold in increments -- six chances for $5 -- at Wiley’s Grill at Coyote Run Golf Course where the weekly drawing is held at 8:30 p.m. The jackpot is now $3,200.
 

The village is proposing three levels of allowable raffles. Currently, the village ordinance allows for a top prize of $250,000. Under the proposal each game would have a maximum prize amount and stipulate how long the raffle is allowed to continue before it must be concluded. They also differ in their bond requirements, whether the organizers would have to buy a bond to cover the liability of the prize and costs related to operating the raffle. 
 

Raffle Class A
License cost: $25
Maximum prize amount: $250,000
Maximum duration: 120 days 
Bond required: None
 

Raffle Class B
License cost: $75
Maximum prize amount: $1 million
Maximum duration: 1 year
Bond required: Yes
 

Raffle Class C
License cost: $100
Maximum prize amount: $5 million
Maximum duration: 1 year
Bond required: Yes
 

The proposal also includes a stipulation that the village could revoke an organization’s license if there were prevailing public safety concerns. 
 

“These can get up to thousands of people coming from over 100 miles away if it gets up over $1 million, and we need to be prepared for that,” Trustee Perry Hoag said.
 

Organizers would have flexibility to move up to the next license class if their Queen of Hearts raffle grew that much. However, the maximum time would remain at one year, counted from the first day of the initial license.
 

“I like the tiered approach,” said Trustee Brian Driscoll. “I think letting it be open-ended lends itself to problems.”
 

Trustee Phil Minga suggested the time limit may be artificial, as an organization could simply buy a new license after the existing one expires and have a “never-ending” fundraiser. The board agreed it should consider a “rest period” for this type of fundraiser, forcing an organization to take a break between raffles.
 

After adjustments to the proposed raffle license regulation amendments, trustees will reconsider the matter and vote at a future meeting.
 

How a Queen of Hearts raffle works
 

●     The game uses a shuffled deck of 52 playing cards plus two jokers.
●      Each card is randomly placed inside a sealed envelope, each marked with a number 1 to 54.
●      The envelopes are displayed inside a glass case.
●      Participants buy raffle tickets and write an envelope number on each one.
●      All the raffle tickets are placed in a drum. When one is chosen, the envelope is open that corresponds with the handwritten number on the ticket.
●      If that envelope contains the Queen of Hearts playing card, the ticket holder wins the jackpot.
●      If it’s not the Queen of Hearts, no one wins, the tickets are discarded and the whole process starts over again.
 

The H-F Foundation raffle has a limit of 120 days. If no winner is selected in the weekly drawings by mid-December, the foundation will keep selecting until there is a winner.

 

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