Common Questions Regarding Raffles

​​​​​ What is a raffle? What does it take to conduct a raffle in Wisconsin?

A “Raffle" is a game of chance for which tickets or calendars are sold and one or more drawings for prizes are held.

Raffle licenses can only be granted to a local religious, charitable, service, fraternal, veterans, or 501(c)(3) organization in Wisconsin, which have been in existence for at least one (1) year or that is chartered by a state or national organization which has been in existence for at least three (3) years.

No other individual, business or national/out of state organization may conduct a raffle in Wisconsin.

What is “Gambling”?

Wisconsin law permits tribal gaming and licensed charitable bingo and raffles. Any activity that involves the elements of consideration, prize, and chance is gambling and illegal unless authorized by Wisconsin Law. Consideration is required payment with anything of value; cash, canned items, and so on. This cannot be circumvented by placing “donation” or “suggested donation” on tickets as this would means you do not require payment or a donation in order to be entered into the drawing. Prize is anything of value; this includes money, gift cards, property, parking stalls, and anything tangible. Chance is anything a purchaser has no control over; drawing, spinning a wheel, deck of cards, and so on. Please see “what types of drawing methods…” and “what about casino nights…” for further information.

An activity that does not involve the awarding of a prize or does not involve any form of payment (consideration) to participate is not gambling. However other laws pertaining to sweepstakes and sales tax may apply.

What are the requirements to conduct a Calendar Raffle?

A Class A raffle license is required to conduct a Calendar Raffle. Please visit the Calendar Raffles page for further information.

I sent in my raffle license for renewal and am waiting for it to come in the mail. Can I print tickets for an upcoming raffle our organization is planning to have?

If your license is valid at the time of printing, you may print your Class A raffle tickets with that current number, even if your drawing is after the expiration date. Be sure to file your renewal prior to the expiration date so there is not a gap in your license periods.
If your license is expired, you will need to wait for the renewed license number to be issued before printing tickets.

Can I sell tickets on the internet or use electronic raffle tickets?

No. The sale and purchase of raffle tickets cannot be made using the internet. (Wis. Stats. 563.93 (1m), (2g); 563.935 (1), (5), (6), (7), (8); 563.03 (10m) (c); 563.94; 563.97 (2))
Printed tickets are required. Electronic tickets are not permissible, and you cannot email or mail tickets, stubs or pictures of the tickets or stubs. Please click here for more details​.
Note that it is permissible to advertise and promote your raffle on the internet.

I recei​ved an inquiry from an online fundraising company offering to conduct my raffle online. Is this legal?

No. Wisconsin statutes do not allow an organization to pay anyone in conjunction with a raffle (Wis. Stats 563.94, 563.02(3).) In addition, the sale and purchase of raffle tickets cannot be made using the internet. Additional information can be found in the section above regarding internet raffles and electronic raffle tickets.​

Is it legal to advertise our raffle in the local paper, on flyers, on our website and Facebook page, is this okay to do?

It is acceptable to advertise for a raffle in any of the above manners.

Note that federal postal laws make it illegal to mail raffle tickets, advertising, and payment for raffle tickets using the US Mail or common carriers such as UPS, FedEx, etc.

What types of raffles, or games of chance, are not legal in Wisconsin?

Raffles that are not legal in Wisconsin include Progressive Raffles (commonly known as a Queen of Hearts raffles, or anything similar, in which a pot rolls over if a specific card is not drawn at the time of the drawing), Square Boards, Penny Raffles, Quarter Auctions, Sports Boards, Paddles, Golf Ball Drops, etc.

“Reverse Order” raffle. Is it okay to draw lesser prizes first and the grand prize winner last?

When drawing for prizes, winning tickets must be pulled in order, grand/largest prize(s) to lowest prize(s), as the law requires all tickets purchased must have an equal opportunity to win the grand/largest prize. (Wis. Stats. 563.03 (12r); 563.908) You can announce the winners in reverse order (lowest prize to grand prize) however, you will need devise a system using envelopes, etc. to ensure that the actual tickets drawn are in order from grand prize on down. Another important thing to remember is that all stubs pulled from the container must win a prize. You cannot draw out losing tickets to remove them from the drawing container.

What types of drawing methods are legal?

The only drawing method that the raffle law allows, is the traditional placing of the ticket stubs into a drawing container where the ticket(s) are drawn for the winner(s) or a duck race. (see DUCK RACES LINK for more information). (Wis. Stats. 563.03 (5r)) Any other method, of determining a winner, is not allowed; i.e. drawing a card from a deck of cards, using cards as raffle tickets, spinning a wheel, using dice, determining a winner based on Pick3/lottery numbers, determining a winner based on sports scores or winning teams, etc.

Are there any age restrictions for purchasers or sellers of raffle tickets? Is it okay for members of the organization or family members to purchase raffle tickets?

There are no prohibitions in the statute regarding who can purchase or sell raffle tickets. However, if the prize is restricted by age or other legal requirements (ex: firearms, vehicles, etc.) then that restriction must be listed on the ticket. (Wis. Stats. 563.93 (2g)(a); 563.935 (1m)) If someone would purchase a ticket that is not eligible to receive it, you would be unable to award the prize to them and must draw for a new winner.

What license do I need to do a 50/50 or bucket raffle?

The Class of license required for a raffle is based on how tickets are to be sold. A 50/50 raffle can be done with either a Class A or Class B raffle license. If you wish to sell for a few months, this would be a Class A raffle. If you wish to conduct a 50/50 at a basketball game for example, this would be a Class B raffle.

“Multi-container” or bucket raffles can only be conducted as Class B raffles.

What about a Sweepstakes or if I put a “suggested donation” on my raffle ticket, can I then mail the ticket?

A Sweepstakes or “suggested donation” ticket is not a raffle and requires you to print, very clearly, “No Purchase Necessary” on all tickets, as it becomes a free drawing. Here is an example of what the ticket must contain, in the same size font and clearly visible on the ticket:

Suggested Donation $XX each
No Purchase Necessary to Enter

Note that this is now a FREE drawing/sweepstakes and not a raffle, and the raffle laws/requirements do not apply. Please review the statutory language that relates to Sweepstakes here.

How do I go about selling Pull-tabs?

For Pull-tabs please contact the Wisconsin Lottery at (608) 267-4825.

What about casino nights and poker tournaments – are they legal?

Traditional Casino or Las Vegas nights, poker tournaments, and poker runs are illegal gambling activities in Wisconsin. These are regulated under Wis. Stats. Chapter 945. Please contact your local law enforcement or the Department of Justice – Special Operations Bureau with questions or complaints.

Can bars do Meat Raffles and play Bingo?

No. To conduct a legal bingo or raffle in Wisconsin, a charitable bingo or raffle license is required. It is not legal for businesses or individuals to conduct raffles in Wisconsin as they do not qualify for either type of license.

I was playing a machine in a tavern and was expecting to be paid out, but was not, is this legal?

Video gambling machines are NOT legal anywhere in Wisconsin except in a lawful casino. A bar or tavern may have 5 or fewer machines for amusement only. For complaints or concerns regarding video gambling machines in a bar/tavern, please contact the Department of Revenue – Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement at 608-266-2772 or your local law enforcement agency. For complaints regarding video gambling machines in any other location, contact your local law enforcement agency.

I want to conduct a benefit to raise funds for an individual, family, or non-profit, how do I obtain a license?

Wisconsin law provides that only charitable organizations can obtain a raffle license in Wisconsin. Individuals and businesses do not qualify for a raffle license. A nonprofit/not-for-profit/charitable organization could not loan their raffle license to an individual or business to conduct a raffle. Any funds raised from raffles conducted under a licensed organization raffle license, can only be used to support the charitable purpose of the licensed organization.
Unlicensed raffles constitute illegal gambling and can subject the participants to criminal penalties.

I am having financial difficulties or issues selling property and want to conduct a raffle to sell my home or my car. Is this okay to do?

Wisconsin law provides that only charitable organizations can obtain a raffle license in Wisconsin. Individuals and businesses do not qualify for a raffle license. It would not be possible for an individual to raffle off their home or car, or for a business owner to raffle off their business. A nonprofit/not-for-profit/charitable organization would not be able to raffle an individual’s items for them, as the organization would need to be in possession of the item prior to raffling it off and all profits from conducting a raffle must be used to further the organization’s purpose.

What other fundraising options do I have as someone who does not qualify for a raffle license?

Some other fundraising options in Wisconsin are:

  • Silent Auction. This can be done online and is legal because only the highest bidders are paying.
  • Auctions. You must have a licensed auctioneer for this.
  • Wine Pull. Offer a variety of bottles wine for a fee and allow the purchaser to choose one at random. Everyone is paying for and receiving something of value in return. Note that the sale amount cannot be greatly inflated, i.e. you have 50 bottles of wine, 35 are $5-$8 bottles, 10 are $10-$20, and 5 are over $20, your average price should be $10 - $15 a bottle.
  • Games of skill. Guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar, bean bag toss, hole in one contest, darts, shooting pool, etc. (Poker and card games are not games of skill and are not legal). Note that you cannot mix a skill-based game, with a chance-based drawing/game.
  • “Golden Ticket” games. Sell items and one or more predetermined items has a prize associated with it. Examples are selling suckers with dots on the bottom of the stick, selling candy bars with prize notices inside, selling balloons where one or more has something inside, etc. Note that the sale amount cannot be greatly inflated, i.e. a regular candy bar for $20. You want to sell them for an amount that will allow your organization to raise funds, plus cover your costs.
  • “100 Envelope Wall.” Sell 100 envelopes for a specific amount each, all with something of value in each, i.e. gift cards for various amounts. The same price requirements as the “Wine Pull” and “Golden Ticket” apply​.

Sales of tangible personal property (bags, student designed boxes and signs) are subject to Wisconsin sales and use tax, unless an exemption applies. For more information, please contact the Department of Revenue’s Sales and Use Tax at 608-266-2776 or​.

Can a political candidate or official running for office conduct a raffle as a fundraiser?

No. Wisconsin law provides that an individual cannot receive any profits from a raffle.

March Madness Brackets & Super Bowl Boards

Our office receives many inquiries each year regarding the legality of March Madness Brackets and Super Bowl Boards in which the participant pays for the chance to win money or other prizes dependent upon the outcome of the game(s). Please note that this is illegal gambling and unlawful under Wisconsin statutes.