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Local News

Morris judiciary and license committee recommends raffles regulation ordinance

The Morris Municipal Services Facility
The Morris Municipal Services Facility

MORRIS – The city’s Judiciary and License Committee on Thursday recommended the creation of an ordinance to the Morris Municipal Code to regulate raffles.

Morris Alderman Herb Wyeth, the committee’s vice chairman, said the city’s lawyers had been working on drafting the ordinance, which was distributed at the meeting.

“We were just trying to stay in compliance with the state,” Wyeth said.

The draft of the ordinance stated, “Whereas, although the city of Morris has not regulated raffles in the past, the Judiciary and License Committee has determined that the adoption of this ordinance to regulate raffles within the city of Morris will promote the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the city of Morris.”

The ordinance provides definitions, three classifications of licenses – a general raffle license, a financial hardship raffle license and an annual raffle license – the required information for a license application, qualifications for a license, fees and the penalties for not complying.

Under the “Conduct of Raffles” section of the ordinance, it sets the limit of all prizes awarded to the winner in a single raffle shall not exceed
$2.5 million. That number could change when the City Council considers the ordinance for approval, but Wyeth said they wanted to make sure the cap was high enough in case a pot got as large as it has gotten at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6049.

“This is a very high one,” Wyeth said. “As far as the limit, we had to make it up to adopt that. Where we go from here, we don’t know.”

The application for a person looking to operate a raffle requires the aggregate retail value of all prizes to be awarded, the maximum price charges for each raffle chance issued or sold, the maximum number of raffle chances to be issued, the area in which the raffle will be sold or issued and the date, time and location at which winning chances will be determined.

Wyeth said that if the City Council approves the ordinance at the meeting on Tuesday, there has to be a 10-day period until the law goes into effect.

The drawing of the Queen of Hearts $1.59 million lottery was abruptly canceled Aug. 21 after Morris police were notified about the game being in violation of a state statute and the municipal code.

The Morris VFW was shut down for the day, and those seeking to buy tickets for the drawing were told to leave.

The state statute, updated in 2015, Morris Police Chief John Severson said, states that a municipality needs to have a code prescribing rules for raffles and a limit on how much can be charged for a raffle ticket and the amount of prizes that can be awarded. Neither Grundy County nor Morris had that type of ordinance at the time of the drawing.

The VFW said it would pause the game until an ordinance can be passed, and the drawing will be held the first Monday after it’s passed and a license is obtained. The tickets that already were sold before the game was shut down were sealed in the container.

Although VFW Auxiliary Treasurer Jim Maskel said that neither the bar nor the city were aware of the law, he said he knew how the gaming board found out about the situation. On the day the Queen of Hearts game was shut down, he declined to disclose how it found out.

Kathy Gilroy, a 67-year-old resident of Villa Park and an antigambling advocate, took credit for reporting the potential violation to the city.

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