TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — After many years of running a football fundraiser, St. Amelia School has been told by the Diocese of Buffalo’s Audit Department that this year’s football raffle ticket promotion is “not in compliance with charitable gaming and allowable games of chance in NYS.”
This week, St. Amelia School families were told to stop distributing tickets “until further instructions can be given,” which the school says it expects to have by the end of the week.
In the notice to parents, which is posted on the school website, a Diocese internal audit newsletter is referenced: “Raffle winners cannot be determined by a random number generator, using the scores of a football game, or by any other determination. NYS (or any other state) daily lottery numbers (forward, backwards, +1, etc.) to determine the winner is NOT an allowable raffle per NYS Regulations. Winners must be determined by drawing a ticket from previously sold tickets.”
In turn, the school says it’s working with Father Michael LaMarca, pastor of St. Amelia Parish, and the school board to “work out an alternate fundraiser” utilizing the football raffle tickets while being in compliance with state gaming regulations.
“The fundraiser itself was not a traditional raffle,” LaMarca says.
For many years, St. Amelia School has held a fundraiser involving the scores of professional football games, running from the start of the school year through the football season. According to recent church bulletins, a $10 ticket offered a chance to win $300, $180 or $60.
In the internal audit newsletter referenced above, the Diocese of Buffalo gave an overview of allowable games of chance, which defines a raffle as “a ticket drawn from a container of previously purchased tickets.”
Giving another example with football squares, they are only acceptable when all of the money received from square players “is disbursed entirely to the winners,” according to the newsletter.
“Football squares for profit are NOT an acceptable or allowable game of chance for charitable gaming…If you are conducting football squares, as a separate activity or part of a fundraiser, all football square sales must be deposited into the operating account,” the newsletter said.