In light of the Stafford Volunteer Fire Department canceling its annual car raffle due to fundraising restrictions, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia), a Life Member of the Stafford Fire Department, announced today that he has introduced legislation to allow Internet advertising by charitable organizations.
Currently, the New York State Constitution does not allow online advertising of charitable games of chance or allow checks or credit cards to be accepted as payment for these raffles.
“I stand in complete support of the Stafford Fire Department,” Hawley said. “Volunteer fire departments are the crux of any successful public safety apparatus and they deserve our utmost respect, help and assistance in every capacity. Clearly, this is an example of the State Constitution lagging behind in technology and adhering to archaic laws.
"The Legislature should immediately consider a constitutional amendment to right this injustice, and I have introduced legislation that would allow charitable organizations to advertise raffle tickets online, boosting sales and reaching more residents. I love attending the Stafford Fire Department Raffle and realize its importance to the sustainability of the department and the local community. I pledge to help in any way I can.”
Hawley is co-sponsoring two bills which would allow charitable organizations holding raffles to accept checks and credit cards. Hawley said he will also be introducing a constitutional amendment to allow nonprofit organizations more latitude in their fundraising efforts.
“Again, this is an example of selective enforcement,” Hawley said. “I sponsor two bills, A.9322 and A.4716, which would address this issue: one allowing checks as payment for raffle tickets; and the other allowing credit as acceptable payment for games of chance.
"This would allow all of our other not for profits, churches, veterans clubs, service clubs and others who strive to help themselves and our communities to sell tickets online and engage more supporters. These bills are currently being held in the Racing and Wagering Committee, and I will do all that I can to get them passed.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: In response to The Batavian's request for more information on the Stafford Fire Department's situation, NY Gaming Commission Spokesman Lee Park e-mailed the following today. We did not hear back from Stafford fire officials.
From Lee Park, NYS Gaming Commission:
The laws and regulations permitting raffles in New York State have been on the books for 20 years and have not changed. All charitable organizations operating in the state are expected to adhere to these laws.
In late 2015, the Gaming Commission received a complaint that this organization was operating in violation of law and regulations. We investigated the matter and informed the organization of the violations and steps needed to correct them.
We sincerely hope that this organization – and all charitable entities in the state – will legally raise funds for their important causes. To this end, the Commission regularly conducts outreach to charitable organizations to ensure they are aware of these laws and regulations, including the prohibition of credit card payments and non-contiguous county sales of raffle tickets. The Commission holds charitable gaming seminars each month at its headquarters in Schenectady and regularly goes into the field to educate organizations on these important measures.
More information about charitable gaming in New York can be found here: https://www.gaming.ny.gov/charitablegaming/index.php?ID=0