Weekly Feature

2018-01-03 / Front Page

Charitable Gaming Act gives nonprofits digital fundraising tools


Nonprofits in New York state received an early Christmas present from the state Assembly when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Charitable Gaming Act of 2017.

The changes amend previously held rules under state law that prevented raffle tickets from being bought and sold online through the use of a debit or credit card.

Under the new laws, nonprofit groups will now be able to sell raffle tickets via the internet and provide for additional payment options for raffles and other fundraising activities — a huge benefit to groups such as Rotary, Lions clubs, Kiwanis and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which garner a significant portion of organizational funds through fundraising.

“This was a law that had been on the books for a long time, but it didn’t advance with the technological times,” said Assemblyman Mike Norris, who represents the 144th District. “This statute will encompass the technologies of the day to allow for the expansion for nonprofits to be able to sell raffle tickets online.”

Norris said that when he campaigned for his Assembly seat, he was approached by the Clarence Rotary, emphasizing the importance of getting the changes made.

“Many folks don’t use cash or write checks anymore. I think these changes will go a long way to help these organizations that want to help others in the community,” Norris said.

He added that the changes will also greatly expand the influence of the Buffalo Sabres Foundation, which supports organizations in Western New York that serve children and military personnel, care for the sick, assist physically and mentally challenged athletes, and support youth hockey initiatives. The foundation sells 50/50 raffle tickets at each home game in order to raise money for its causes, and with the new law in effect, fans will be able to purchase the tickets from their phones.

“They believe they’ll be able to raise significantly more for the foundation through the improvements that have been made to this law,” Norris said.

Paul Justinger of Clarence Rotary chairs the organization’s largest and most prominent fundraiser: the Porsche raffle. Residents who purchased tickets for last year’s raffle, the winner of which is announced each August at the Clarence Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of Clarence and Cruise Night, were entered into a drawing to win either a 2018 Porsche Boxster, Macan S or $40,000 in cash.

“If you have to raise serious money to allow you to make a serious difference in the community, you have to have fundraisers like this one,” Justinger said, adding that the amendments to the law will allow other charitable organizations to raise money with more flexibility. “It opens up the possibilities for other clubs to do bigger fundraisers. Other clubs then give that money back into the community, and that helps out people, also.”

Justinger believes that the changes were a long time coming for organizations that give copious amounts of both time and energy in order to better their local communities.

“Every dollar we raise goes into the community, and there’s a great need not just in our local community but in the global community, also,” he said. “We’ve built water wells, hospitals, schools; we really do try to save lives.”

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