It’s about time raffles were legal

By The Mercury

It has been odd, even hypocritical, for a state that since 1986 has sponsored a lottery and that now permits and profits from casino gambling to prohibit raffles.

Thus, it was good to see the Kansas Senate this week overwhelmingly approve a measure that would allow nonprofit organizations to conduct raffles.

The bill, which calls for an amendment to the Kansas Constitution, would permit religious, charitable, educational, fraternal and veterans groups to operate raffles. The vote was 35-0, with four conservative Republicans abstaining.

If the House of Representatives follows the Senate’s lead and approves the measure by at least a two-thirds vote, it will be placed on the ballot on the primary election this August. If a simple majority of voters approves it, the Constitution, which at one time declared that all forms of lotteries were “forever prohibited,” would be amended.

Voters have previously approved exceptions that allow the state lottery and casinos, betting on dog and horse races, and bingo games operated by nonprofit organizations. Raffles are one of the few items still prohibited, at least technically.

For Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, a Nickerson Republican, the change is long overdue. “We like slot machines, but evidently the Constitution is biased against quilts. It is an anomaly and we need to fix it.”

Raffles aren’t just fun, they can be significant fundraisers for any number of organizations that provide services to their communities. They should have been the first form of gambling allowed, not the last.

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