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Office of the General Counsel

Administration 208
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660.543.4730

Office of the General Counsel

Raffles and Sweepstakes

Gambling, with only a few exceptions, is illegal in Missouri. Those exceptions are restricted and highly regulated.

There are many types of gambling. Promotions that award prizes may be called contests, sweepstakes, lotteries, raffles, drawings or games.

Three elements make up an illegal promotion: prize, chance and consideration

  • Prize is any benefit, cash or property awarded a winner.
  • Chance means the winner is chosen by "luck" with little or no skill or ability involved.
  • Consideration is the exchange of something of value for the chance to win a prize.

A raffle is when a participant buys a ticket for a chance at a prize, with the winner determined by a random drawing.  Raffles and sweepstakes are popular money-making efforts. Missouri law is clear, however, concerning which groups may legally sponsor these promotions.

In 1998 Missouri voters adopted a constitutional amendment allowing raffles and sweepstakes to be sponsored by groups recognized under federal law as charitable or religious (Missouri Constitution, Article III, Section 39(f)). UCM is not a charitable organization.

Games of skill, no-purchase-necessary games

Missourians may legally participate in raffles or sweepstakes where no consideration is required to be eligible for a prize. Many fast-food restaurants offer no-purchase ­necessary games in which consumers can obtain free tickets without a purchase.

Assuring that a prize or award has been given without violating the legal prohibitions means that one of the three elements of the lottery or sweepstake is not present. Again, the elements are 1) prize (something of value), 2) chance and 3) consideration (payment). Obviously a prize is involved so you can eliminate chance by holding an actual competition or eliminate consideration by not requiring payment for an opportunity to win the prize.