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Raffle laws

Ohio Raffle Laws: Are Raffle Legal in Ohio? [2024]

April 3, 2024

Not only are fundraising raffles legal in Ohio, but charitable organizations are the only entities allowed to host raffles at all in the state. Ohio's business community has a long history of supporting local charities and recognizes the value of raffles to raise money for good by permitting them to happen.

Any fundraisers and event planners looking to maximize raffle success are well supported. At the same time, the state requires precise rules and regulations to avoid the cost of illegal conduct.

We’ve got you covered in this guide to Ohio raffle laws, including:

Ohio raffle laws

Attorney General Dave Yost's Charitable Law Section governs raffles in Ohio to maintain order in their operation and who is involved.

No state-level raffle license is required; however, there are several limitations that we will cover below.

Nonprofit raffle laws in Ohio

Ohio raffle legislation comes from the state's charitable gaming laws.

The most important raffle laws to know for nonprofits include:

  • Who can run a raffle: Only charitable organizations can run a raffle. Businesses can be involved in a raffle run by a charitable organization or promote the sale of charitable raffle tickets. 

A qualified organization includes nonprofits, schools, veteran organizations, fraternal organizations, or sporting organizations with exempt federal income status.

  • Age of participants: Anyone under 18 can sell raffle tickets as long as they are not at the raffle site. Underage participants may purchase tickets for a legal raffle under Ohio law.
  • Use of profits: Any 501(c)(3) organization may keep all the profit from a raffle. Any other organization must give half of the net profit to an eligible charitable purpose or government entity.

Nonprofit record keeping requirements for raffles in Ohio

Record keeping is an important aspect of running a compliant raffle. There are quite a few rules to follow and prepare for.

Ohio revised code requires the following for each raffle:

  • An itemized list of gross receipts
  • An itemized list of all expenses
  • A list of all prizes awarded
  • An itemized list of the recipients of the net profit (including the name and address of each recipient to whom the money is distributed)
  • The number of participants
  • The gross profit from each raffle
  • Inventory of all related supplies (and a description that identifies supplies)
  • The name of the manufacturer from which supplies are purchased
  • The name and address of the charitable organization 

Are 50/50 raffles legal in Ohio?

It is legal to run a 50/50 raffle in Ohio along with all other raffle types. A 50/50 raffle awards a prize equal to half the amount raised and can encourage attendees to purchase more tickets to increase the prize pot.

Big charities such as Ohio State University and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio host 50/50 raffles to engage the community and increase funding for important causes.

Ohio raffle FAQs

Are online raffles legal in Ohio?

Online raffles are illegal for charities. You can sell raffle tickets online in Ohio, but the winning ticket must be drawn from a receptacle

Zeffy's free raffle solution can still help manage ticket sales, participants, and the details needed for recordkeeping in Ohio. The 100% free fundraising platform also supports engagement with supporters to build relationships and increase participation in future campaigns.

Is a raffle considered gambling in Ohio?

A raffle is not considered gambling in Ohio. It is legal for qualified organizations, including nonprofits, and is governed by a separate entity from gambling activities.

Gambling includes activities like state lotteries, horse races, and casinos, governed by the Ohio Lottery Commission. Depending on state raffle laws across the US, gambling and raffles may share legislation or have separate laws.

Is a 50/50 raffle considered gambling?

A 50/50 raffle is not considered gambling in Ohio. All raffles are legal in Ohio and governed by Attorney General Dave Yost's Charitable Law Section.  

Do I need a license to sell pull tabs in Ohio?

You need a license to sell "pull tabs" or instant bingo games in Ohio. A charitable organization is eligible to host a bingo fundraiser but should know bingo is highly regulated by state legislation.

Unlike raffles, charitable organizations must apply for a license with the state of Ohio. All money raised by a bingo fundraiser is considered philanthropic assets.

What is a legal alternative to a raffle?

Legal alternatives to raffles for nonprofits in states that do not allow them include:

These fundraising activities are also a great addition to a raffle for a well-rounded donation strategy.

Start a campaign with Zeffy’s 100% free fundraising platform

Do raffles count as donations?

Raffles count as donations regarding the money earned and how a nonprofit can use it. In Ohio, charitable organizations can receive 100% of their earnings from a raffle to contribute to fundraising goals.

In terms of federal income taxation, money spent on raffle tickets or participating in a raffle is not exempt federal income like a standard donation.

Automate donation tax receipts and stay compliant with Zeffy’s 100% free platform

What's the difference between a raffle and a drawing?

The difference between a raffle and a drawing is that there are different entry requirements. A drawing usually doesn't require a purchase to gain entries, as a raffle does through ticket sales.

Nonprofits can choose whether or not to host a raffle or a drawing, knowing both are legal activities in Ohio.

Can I raffle alcohol in Ohio?

You can raffle alcohol in Ohio with a new law that regulates this type of prize.

The General Assembly dictates that:

  • Alcohol prizes must be purchased through a state-licensed agent.
  • Beer and wine require organizations to collect receipts to show that the purchase is from an Ohio agent with the proper permits.
  • High-proof liquor requires a form in advance and uploaded receipts to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.
  • Ohio liquor permit holders and state liquor agencies are prohibited from donating.

Keep reading :

Raffle laws
US raffle rules by state: Legal guidelines for nonprofits and 501(c)3

Check out the 501c3 raffle rules and regulations of your state. Learn how to hold your nonprofit raffle legally.

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