Common Questions Regarding Raffles


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.

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.

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

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.

Limited, unorganized sales of raffle tickets outside of Wisconsin are permitted.  Under Wisconsin law, only certain “local organizations" are permitted to conduct raffles.  A “local organization" is one whose activities are limited to Wisconsin, to a specific geographic area within Wisconsin, or a specific geographic area that is partly within Wisconsin and partly within another state.  See Wis. Stat. sec. 563.907(2).  Accordingly, an organization's sale of raffle tickets must be focused on the geographic area the organization serves.  However, the Division of Gaming recognizes that it is not practical to prevent all sales of raffle tickets to purchasers who live outside of the organization's geographic area.  Therefore, limited and unorganized sales of raffle tickets to outside purchasers are permitted.  For example, if an organization that serves Milwaukee County were to conduct a raffle during its annual dinner at a hall in Milwaukee, and some of the attendees who purchased raffle tickets were from other regions of Wisconsin or other states, that would be permissible.  Or if a member of your organization travelled outside of Wisconsin to visit relatives and friends and sold some raffle tickets to them, that would be permissible too.  The key is that the organization's primary efforts must be focused on selling tickets within the geographic area they serve.​

Sales of raffle tickets via the internet and other electronic means are permitted if the licensee follows the procedures described below. Because Wisconsin law requires the use of printed raffle tickets, entirely electronic raffles are not permitted. In addition, licensees are still required to focus their sales efforts on purchasers located within the geographic area the licensee’s organization serves. For more details, see “Can I sell raffle tickets outside Wisconsin?”

Class A licensees: Class A licensees may offer and sell raffle tickets through their websites or via email or text message exchanges with purchasers. Each raffle ticket must be in paper form. However, instead of mailing or hand-delivering the paper ticket to the purchaser, the licensee is permitted to send the purchaser a copy of the purchaser’s portion of the ticket via the internet, email, or text message. The electronic transmission of the purchaser’s portion of the ticket must be done in a manner that permits the purchaser to print a complete copy of its portion. In addition:

  • ​ The licensee must retain both the licensee’s portion and the purchaser’s portion of the paper ticket. 
  • The licensee must retain a record of each purchaser’s name and address and the identification number of each ticket purchased.
  • Each ticket must be identical in form. 
  • Each ticket must contain the licensee’s license number. 
  • Each ticket must contain the price of the ticket and the discounted price, if any, applicable to multiple ticket purchases. 
  • Each ticket must contain a place for the e purchaser to enter his or her name or address. 
  • Each ticket must contain the date, time, and place of each drawing. 
  • Each ticket must contain a list of each prize to be awarded that has a fair market value of $1,000 or more.

Class B licensees: Class B licensees may offer and sell raffle tickets through their websites or via email or text message exchanges with purchasers. However, the licensee must distribute the paper tickets to purchasers at the event at which the drawing will take place.

For both types of licenses, all other requirements of Wisconsin law continue to apply.

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.​

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, order forms, and payment for raffle tickets/stubs using the US Mail or common carriers such as UPS, FedEx, etc.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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​.

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

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.