Raffle Craze Spreads to Chicago Area

A raffle that has become popular with some Illinois veterans' organizations is spreading to numerous Chicago-area bars with some jackpots climbing to seven figures.

Bars in the city's south side area are drawing big crowds while hosting Queen of Hearts raffles for neighboring Catholic schools, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Queen of Hearts raffle typically consists of a deck of cards hidden in numbered envelopes. Players give each raffle ticket a number they guess corresponds with the envelope that holds the queen of hearts. If a player's ticket is drawn with the right number, they win the jackpot. The pot continues growing each week until a winner is found.

The raffle has become an increasingly popular way for charity groups to raise money because the rising pots attract a sizable number of players. A pool of money for the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in McHenry has climbed past $1.6 million, with ticket buyers lining up out the door.

State and city law says only nonprofits can legally sponsor such raffles, though the drawings are often held at for-profit businesses like bars.

Some games have run into legal trouble because state law also requires each raffle to be licensed by its local government. Many small towns don't have related ordinances or issue licenses.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Morris awarded a raffle prize of $1 million last year. However, the game was briefly suspended after an anti-gambling activist complained that it wasn't licensed. Critics have also argued that some organizations and cities keep changing the rules.

The Chicago City Council in March raised the maximum prize of any raffle to $500,000, and the total value of all prizes to $1 million. The measure, which was sponsored by Ald. Matthew O'Shea of the 19th Ward on the Far Southwest Side, passed unanimously.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us