HARRISBURG – With first responders and other valued nonprofit organizations continuing to struggle with fundraising due to COVID-19 restrictions, the House Gaming Oversight Committee has approved legislation authored by Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Fayette/Westmoreland) to help.
House Bill 290 would authorize organizations that hold Small Games of Chance (SGOC) licenses to conduct certain raffles and drawings online through the pandemic and its immediate aftermath.
“Our communities rely heavily on first response agencies to keep us safe, and on veterans and other social organizations to support things like scholarships, Scouting and youth sports,” Warner said. “We need these services now more than ever, but they cannot continue if our organizations don’t have the ability to fundraise.”
Warner noted that pre-COVID-19, events to raffle popular gifts such as golf equipment and other items had become important community fundraisers. COVID-19 restrictions have greatly inhibited the organizations that rely on revenue from these events. However, those same organizations have continued to operate and, in some cases, especially for first responder agencies, have seen their expenses increase.
“To their credit, these organizations have tried to be creative in their effort to continue fundraising using technology and social media,” Warner said. “My bill will ensure their operations fall within state law.”
Current regulations and procedures do not expressly allow for online sales of small games chance but do prohibit licensees from accepting credit card and online payments from participants, Warner noted.
House Bill 290
would specifically authorize licensees to conduct online raffles and drawings, and use a mobile payment service (not credit cards) for payment. Participants would have to be verified as residing within the Commonwealth and be at least 18 years of age.
The change would expire with the expiration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency or May 1, 2022, whichever is later.
The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
Representative Ryan Warner
52nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler