Sportsmen’s Conservation Organizations Work Together to Change West Virginia Raffle Law

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

Highlights

  • In 2020, annual banquets and other in-person fundraisers for hunting and fishing conservation non-profit organizations were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • With the uncertainty the ongoing pandemic posed for future in-person events, sportsmen’s organizations banded together to propose a change to West Virginia law that prohibited online raffles.
  • In February, West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Bill Hamilton introduced Senate Bill 263 (SB 263) to allow raffles to be conducted online.
  • SB 263 was later signed into law on April 28 by Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Jim Justice.

Why it Matters: Hunting and fishing conservation organizations rely heavily on in-person fundraising events to support their missions. Without the ability to fundraise in-person or online, hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) programs; fish and wildlife habitat improvement projects; and other conservation deliverables that non-profit organizations provide to the Mountain State would decline.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to limit in-person fundraising events, non-profit organizations recognized the importance of exploring new ways to raise funds to support their missions. With more people working remotely from home, virtual meetings becoming commonplace, and other ways of conducting business electronically, conservation organizations naturally turned to online fundraising, but hit a wall when they discovered that West Virginia law prohibited raffles from being conducted online.

West Virginia recently authorized online sports betting, but selling raffle tickets to support a non-profit organization is not allowed-- at least that was the case until a coalition of sportsmen’s organizations, including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), and other charitable organizations banded together to support legislation to change this outdated law. In February, West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Bill Hamilton introduced Senate Bill 263 (SB 263) to allow raffles to be conducted online.

The coalition worked closely together throughout the legislative process to support the bill’s advancement, including submitting multiple letters of support. The legislation received strong bipartisan support in both chambers, and on April 28, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Jim Justice signed SB 263 into law. Sporting conservation organizations will now be able to conduct raffles online to enhance support for their missions for sportsmen and women.

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