State Statute of Florida on Raffles and Charities

By River Braun, J.D.

State Statute of Florida on Raffles and Charities

By River Braun, J.D.

Most lotteries and raffles are illegal in Florida because they are considered a form of gambling. However, Florida lawmakers recognize that nonprofits and charities often use raffles as a fundraising method. Therefore, the state has made an exception for certain organizations if they adhere to specific rules and does not require a fee to participate. If your charity does not carefully follow all raffle laws, you could face criminal charges.

Open laptop with graphics and the word "Fundraising" displayed on the screen

Qualifying Your Organization to Hold a Raffle

To hold a legal raffle in Florida, your charity must first be a qualifying nonprofit. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must recognize your organization as having federal 501(c)(3) status.

Nonprofits must demonstrate that they advance a specific scientific, religious, charitable, or educational purpose to obtain tax-exempt status. Organizations that may qualify for federal 501(c)(3) status include churches, charitable organizations, universities, and social welfare organizations.

Requirements for Holding a Raffle in Florida

A raffle can be an effective way to raise money for your organization. If your organization is a qualifying nonprofit, follow these strict rules and regulations to hold your raffle.

Required Disclosures for Raffles

You must disclose certain information in all materials used to promote the raffle. These disclosures are intended to prevent the organization from distributing marketing materials that contain deceptive, false, or misleading information.

For example, every ticket, brochure, entry form, and advertisement must state the full name of the organization holding the raffle and the location of its primary place of business. All marketing and advertising materials must also contain the complete rules for the raffle. Also, you must provide the date, hour, and where you will choose a winner and distribute prizes. An organization must also disclose the source of the funds used to purchase prizes or award cash prizes.

Donations vs. Payment for Tickets

Florida statutes prohibit nonprofits from requiring payment for raffle tickets. In other words, you should have a statement that clearly explains that participants are not required to purchase an entry or contribute money to win a prize. An individual can participate and win without spending any money.

However, your organization can suggest individuals contribute a donation when receiving a ticket. For instance, you can state that donations of $10 per ticket are suggested but not required.

Selecting and Announcing Winners

You must randomly select the raffles' winners. Your organization must also award all advertised prizes, and you must promptly notify the winners. You cannot award prizes based on whether an individual made a cash contribution to receive a ticket. Although, you may limit the number of tickets each person may take.

You cannot award prizes based on instant or predetermined winners. And you cannot cancel the raffle or make a minimum number of contributions a condition for receiving prizes.

Violations of the raffle laws are second-degree misdemeanors in Florida. Convictions could result in fines and jail time. Before you hold a raffle for your nonprofit, make sure you review Florida's raffle laws and educate everyone in your organization to ensure you avoid any issues.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.