New York Caucus Co-Chair Calls for Action or Removal of Gaming Commissioners Over Online Raffle Regulations

Contact: Nick Lewis, Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator

Highlights

  • On November 22, New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Joseph Griffo called on the Gaming Commission to formulate the necessary regulations for the Charitable Gaming Act of 2017 to take effect and asked the Governor to replace the commissioners if there is further inaction.
  • In 2017, Senator Joseph Griffo co-sponsored legislation which would authorize online raffles for charitable organizations, set to take effect when the Gaming Commission promulgates rules consistent with the law.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has engaged in national efforts (i.e., West Virginia Senate Bill 263; Maine LD 685) towards similar legislation, given the needed relief that would be provided for numerous conservation organizations whose ability to raise essential revenue after the COVID-19 pandemic was hindered by the cancelation of nearly all in-person events, which in turn has negatively impacted their ability to deliver on-the-ground conservation.

Why it Matters: Hunting, fishing, and other conservation organizations rely heavily on in-person fundraising events to support their missions. With the pandemic still lingering and the economy shifting towards an ever-increasingly digital marketplace, these organizations must have expanded online raffle access to ensure funding mechanisms remain for efforts such as hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) programs; fish and wildlife habitat improvement projects; and other conservation deliverables that non-profit organizations provide to the Empire State.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed a challenge within the revenue streams of many conservation organizations, as they rely heavily on in-person fundraising events. After recognizing this issue, several conservation groups banded together to work towards legalizing online raffles and games of chance in many states across the country. Despite lockdowns and restrictions easing, the ability for conservation organizations to host online raffles is necessary to keep up with the ever-expanding digital economy.

To the benefit of charitable organizations in the Empire State, New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Griffo recognized this need several years ago and co-sponsored the Charitable Gaming Act of 2017 (Act), which authorized non-profit charitable groups to sell raffle tickets online, as well as accept debit/credit card payments for their fundraising activities. This was a big win for the sportsmen’s community in New York, allowing another fundraising tool to ensure the continuity of important conservation work in the state.

The Act required the New York Gaming Commission to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to enable the legislation to take effect by June 2018. After years of inaction by the Gaming Commission in direct defiance of state law, Senator Griffo recently penned a letter taking the Commission to task for its inaction. In the letter, which was sent to Governor Hochul, Senator Griffo requested the removal of members of the Gaming Commission if it continues to ignore its statutory requirements.

Had the Gaming Commission acted as required by law, the revenue problems for sportsmen’s groups may have been lessened throughout the pandemic. Instead, several charitable, conservation-based organizations continue to struggle with balancing the safety of in-person fundraisers with the need to raise money for their conservation work.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation supports Senator Griffo in his request to have the Gaming Commission act swiftly. Pushing this over the finish line is important not just for sportsmen’s groups but all charitable organizations throughout the Empire State.

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