How to Run a 50/50 Raffle

A 50/50 raffle is a pretty straightforward type of raffle. You sell tickets at a predetermined amount, usually something low like $1 or $5 each. The person whose ticket is drawn recives half of the total amount of the “pot” and the other half goes to the “house” or benefiting organization.

The prize is the half of the amount collected from ticket sales. Typically participants have to be present at the time of the drawing to win. If nobody claims the prize when the number is drawn, simply draw another number until somebody wins.

The trouble with 50/50 raffles is that since the prize is cash, they are more likely to be restricted by state or local laws. Furthermore, when they are allowed they are often the exclusive domain of nonprofit organizations (like other raffles).

In the article below you’ll read about what is probably a very common occurrence. That is, a social group (bowing league) holds spontaneous and unlicensed 50/50 raffles to defray their group’s expenses. However, this social group does not qualify under state law as a group that is allowed to legally hold raffles.

A number of Central Jersey bowling alleys are among those facing $3,000 fines in connection with illegal 50-50 raffles, according to state officials.

In the 50-50 drawings, after the winner was paid, either the bowling alley or the bowling league — depending on who sponsored the drawing — received the other 50 percent of the total funds, Lamm said.

Under state law, veterans organizations, religious congregations, charities, civic and service clubs, educational and fraternal organizations, senior citizens associations and clubs, and volunteer fire companies and rescue squads may hold raffles, officials said.

Thomas Martino, who has owned Majestic Lanes for the past 19 years but has been involved in bowling for 37 years, said 50-50s have always been a way of life at bowling lanes. He said raffles are not run by bowling centers, but rather the leagues that use the facilities. He said the money is used for banquet fees, sunshine funds or holiday or birthday parties. “It’s part of the social experience,” he said.

Nadine Sokalski, general manager at Stelton Lanes in Piscataway, said the 50-50 raffles were conducted by bowling leagues that rent lanes at the bowling alley. In the meantime, all 50-50s have been halted, Sokalski said. But she said some long-term solution is needed.


As this example illustrates, for those found breaking gambling laws, enforcement is swift and publicly embarrassing, and the penalties can be grim.

50/50 raffles can be a fun and easy raffle to raise money. Just be sure to check with authorities first.

Hold a Winning Raffle

Learn how to manage a raffle like the professionals. Check out RaffleFaq’s complete guide to holding a winning raffle.

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