It’s summer and New York’s stadiums are filled with fans. Along with their hotdogs, beer and swag, they’ll now be able to buy raffle tickets. Amendments to New York’s administrative code pursuant to Intro. 891 now allow sports venues (with 5000+ permanent seats) throughout New York City to conduct “games of chance” during “professional and collegiate sporting competitions, from two hours before the beginning of play until the end of play, with no limitation on the sum or value of the prize for such game of chance.”
Prior to these amendments in Sections 20-435 and 436 of the Administrative Code, only charities could conduct specified “games of chance” (i.e., “specific games of chance, in which prizes are awarded on the basis of a designated winning number or numbers, color or colors, symbol or symbols,” such as raffle tickets), and could only do so subject to strict requirements and restrictions, including a cap on the value of the prize, the premises where the game could be held, and more. The Code also requires those operating games of chance to obtain a license from the state’s Gaming Commission. Unauthorized conduct of a game of chance constitutes and is punishable as a misdemeanor.
So what exactly do the amendments change? First, they allow a sports venue itself to conduct games of chance on behalf of a charity during both professional and collegiate sporting events (except on specified holidays), and with fewer restrictions. They allow for advertising. Interestingly, a previous draft of the bill would have allowed the venue to “receive …. remuneration for participating in the management or operation of any such game” but that change did not make it into the final version.
What doesn’t change? It appears that the sports venues, like the charities themselves, would still be subject to the licensing requirements for games of chance. And the prize value limits on certain types of games of chance, like raffles, are still operative under the Municipal Code.
The amendments are being heralded by the Mayor and sports organizations as a boon for charities. Charities are undoubtedly thrilled to get a new revenue stream.