Booming Charity Raffles Now Target NFL Clubs

The NFL is now allowing 50-50 raffles to take place during games.

(from Sports Business Journal, April 8, 2013) The NFL has been historically opposed to fans gambling on its products. This prohibited such things as “50-50 raffles,” which splits the money raised from the raffle evenly between a winning ticket buyer in the crowd and a charity.

Recently, league spokesman, Brian McCarthy, stated that the NFL has modified its position as more teams and leagues were presented with the option of raising money for charities. After the 2012 season, ground rules were developed but individual teams were left to decide whether to run those programs. McCarthy stated, “We provided some guidance, but we don’t have a position on it.”

These guidelines state that teams must submit details to the league, which first must be reviewed and approved by the NFL’s legal staff. The guidelines prohibit the team keeping any money tied to the raffle and require that 50% of the proceeds must benefit a charitable organization.

Due to the size of the crowds at NFL games, the potential to generate significant revenue for the charities is definitely present. This revenue doesn’t always come without a speed bump in the process. Some governing laws, which vary by state, can prove difficult. Sometimes before teams can run raffles, new legislation must take effect to clear legal barriers.

A clear downside to NFL games as opposed to NBA and MLB games is game frequency. NFL teams have sizeable crowds, but only host eight regular-season home games per year. The opportunity to sell raffle tickets is greatly reduced. Teams might be reluctant when considering the trade-off between the revenue that would be generated by selling space on scoreboards and the amount of space that would be used to showcase the running total of the raffle that is used to drive sales.

Despite the NFL’s shift on raffles, some teams are still keeping quiet about their future plans, which perhaps indicate their sensitivity regarding the subject of gambling in any form.