Charity and Non-Profit Organization Law in California - How to Hold A Charitable Raffle or Poker Tournament in Orange County


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There is a growing trend by California Charities and Non-Profit Organizations to hold raffles for dream homes worth millions of dollars and poker tournaments to increase donations in these tough economic times. However, there are a considerable number of rules which must be followed by such charity organizations and violation of those rules can lead to a charity being referred to county prosecutors as this Orange County Charity attorney explains.

Charity Raffles

A growing trend in California by non-profit and charitable organizations in Orange County and elsewhere is to conduct raffles, but these are not the bake-sale raffles of old. Today, such raffles are often for homes worth between one and three million dollars.

Indeed, in 2008, nearly 2,200 charities registered approximately 3,500 raffles with the Attorney Generalís
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Office in the State of California. Not all of the raffles were for prizes as spectacular as a million dollar home, but there have also been charities who have failed to register their raffle with the state in advance of their raffle and some of the charities who have failed to comply with the rules have been referred to county prosecutors.

While noncompliance with the raffle rules has usually been the result of an honest mistake, some charities simply donít like all of the reporting requirements.

The rules relating to charitable raffles in Orange County and all of California are contained in California Penal Code Section 320.5. The rules are straightforward, though somewhat complex. The most important rule perhaps is the requirement that at least 90 percent of the gross receipts generated from the sale of the raffle tickets for any given draw are used by the eligible organization conducting the raffle to benefit or provide support for beneficial or charitable purposes.

While California Gambling Laws are contained in a myriad of Penal Code Sections, rules relating to sweepstakes, promotions and contests are contained in California Business and Professions Code Sections 17539-17539.55 and the enforcement provisions are in Sections 17200 and 17534-17536.

Non-Profit Organization Poker Tournaments

With the popularity of poker tournaments on television, charities in Orange County and throughout the state have gotten into the act as well. The holding of Charitable Poker Tournaments and other controlled games is governed by sections 19985-19987 of the Business and Professions Code. The same 90 percent rule applies as it does to who may conduct charitable raffles.

If you are a charitable or non-profit organization and would like legal advice as to how to conduct or set up charitable fund raising events of any kind in Orange County or anywhere in Southern California, especially those which involve any types of games of chance, contests, sweepstakes, promotions, gambling, poker or raffles, be sure to consult with a Charity and Non-Profit Organization attorney before preparing any advertising materials or rules for your event.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: R. Sebastian Gibson
Sebastian Gibson graduated cum laude at UCLA in 1972 and received law degrees in the U.S. and the U.K., graduating with an LL.B. magna cum laude from University College, Cardiff in Wales and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law.

Mr. Gibson began his legal career in San Diego before practicing for years in London, England. Today, he has offices in Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert in the Palm Springs area, Newport Beach in Orange County, and the firmís Of Counsel office is in Carlsbad, San Diego.

Sebastian Gibson is a California Charity and Non-Profit Organization Attorney representing clients in a wide variety of legal matters including charity and non-profit organization law, business, real estate, and personal injury matters throughout Southern California from San Diego, Orange County, Irvine, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Santa Monica, Ontario, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Newport Beach to Carlsbad.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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