What is a game of chance?
Ohio Revised Code Section 2915.01(D) defines “game of chance” as “poker, craps, roulette, or other game in which a player gives anything of value in the hope of gain, the outcome of which is determined largely by chance, but does not include bingo.”
What is a scheme of chance?
ORC 2915.01(C) defines “scheme of chance” as “a slot machine unless authorized under Chapter 3772 of the Revised Code, lottery unless authorized under Chapter 3770 of the Revised Code, numbers game, pool conducted for profit, or other scheme in which a participant gives a valuable consideration for a chance to win a prize, but does not include bingo, a skill-based amusement machine, or a pool not conducted for profit. ‘Scheme of chance’ includes the use of an electronic device to reveal the results of a game entry if valuable consideration is paid, directly or indirectly, for a chance to win a prize.”<
My friends and I want to pool together money to bet on basketball tournament brackets or fantasy football leagues. Is this legal?
Under ORC 2915.01(C), pools not conducted for profit are specifically exempt from the definition of “scheme of chance.” If 100 percent of the money pooled together is paid out to the winner(s), the pool is a "pool not conducted for profit" and is therefore not an illegal scheme of chance.
My charity is interested in selling squares from a 10x10 sheet related to the Super Bowl where the winners would be determined by the scores at the end of every quarter. Fifty percent of the proceeds would go to the winners and 50 percent would be kept by the charity. Is this permissible?
Under ORC 2915.01(C), this would be considered an impermissible pool conducted for profit. Any time any funds are diverted from going to the participants as prizes, even to a charitable organization, it is an illegal scheme of chance.
My charity is interested in raffling liquor and wine. Are there any special provisions we should know about?
ORC 4301.58 requires charities raffling beer, wine, liquor and other alcoholic products to ensure those products were purchased from Ohio liquor permit holders by maintaining receipts and collecting receipts from those contributing goods. When raffling spirituous liquors, the charitable organization must submit a copy of the receipt and complete a form to be filed with the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Liquor Control Unit. The form and details can be found at Spirituous Liquor Receipts for Charitable Fundraisers on the Ohio Department of Commerce website.
What formal opinions has the Ohio Attorney General’s Office published related to charitable law and gaming?
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has issued the following opinions:
- 2018-012: Queen of hearts
- 2013-029: Compensation of volunteers at festival, revenue from games of chance to pay rent of facilities, method of calculating amount of rent
- 2013-027/2013-030: Charitable organization may not operate an automatic, electronic poker table at a festival
- 2013-012: Sweepstakes promotion by insurance company not an illegal raffle
- 2008-015: Charitable organization, games of chance, raffles
- 2006-045: Night at the races
- 2004-042: Public school raffle tickets, sale or purchase by a person under the age of 18
- 2004-029: Skill-based amusement device
- 2004-021: Lottery pooling service
A search feature for attorney general opinions is available online through the attorney general’s Opinions Database.
My charity wants to hold a raffle. Do I need to get a license or file any special reports with the Ohio Attorney General?
Raffles are defined in ORC 2915.01(CC) and requirements about who can conduct raffles is set forth in ORC 2915.092.
All 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to hold raffles and no license or report is required.
All 501(c)(4), 501(c)(6), 501(c)(7), 501(c)(8), 501(c)(10), and 501(c)(19) organizations are permitted to hold raffles and no license or report is required. However, these organizations must distribute at least 50% of the net profit to a charitable purpose or governmental entity.
And, as with all fundraising, any organization conducting a raffle needs to keep its records for at least three years.
My charity is interested in hosting online raffles. Is this permissible?
Many of the new online tools that are readily available are not legal in the state of Ohio and constitute violations of Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2915. For instance, in Ohio, raffles cannot be conducted online using a random number generator to select a winner. Raffle winners need to be drawn from a receptacle containing detachable sections representing all of the tickets sold. Charities can, for instance, sell the tickets online; but the winning ticket must be drawn from a receptacle.
My company is interested in supporting a charitable cause and is considering holding a raffle to raise money for that cause. Is that legal?
Under Ohio law, only charitable organizations can hold raffles. Businesses and individuals are forbidden from holding raffles. You can consider approaching a particular charity to discuss whether that charity is interested in running, organizing and overseeing a raffle that you can support within your business.
I’ve heard about some companies that will run a casino night fundraising activity for charities where they provide all of the equipment and staff for the gaming tables. Is this legal?
While 501(c)(3) organizations can hold these types of events, there are strict restrictions on where and how they must be conducted. It may be helpful to review Policy 201: Games of Chance when contemplating these types of activities.