It seems a little hypocritical that the only entity in Kansas that legally can have a gambling operation is the state government.
Although the Kansas Constitution bans all forms of lotteries, a 1986 amendment makes an exception for the state’s lottery and state-owned casinos — but no one else.
In November, Kansas voters will have an opportunity to remedy that situation when they consider a constitutional amendment that would allow nonprofit religious, fraternal, educational and veterans groups to operate raffles. The measure is needed because the constitutional ban on lotteries has been interpreted to include any situation in which people pay money to get a random chance to win a prize.
Kansas organizations have figured out ways to get around this ban by asking for donations rather than payment for a raffle ticket, but they supposedly weren’t entitled to link the two and would technically have to let anyone be eligible to win a prize, whether or not they made a donation. It’s a technicality that can catch groups if they aren’t careful.
It’s the same provision that drew attention recently to U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp. R-Kan., who sent an email seeking campaign contributions in exchange for a chance to win tickets to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. However, the constitutional amendment that voters will consider applies only to nonprofit groups and a political campaign effort like Huelskamp’s presumably couldn’t meet that standard.
Contests that look a lot like raffles are a staple for many nonprofit organizations seeking to raise money for many good causes. A constitutional amendment that would make it easier for those groups to use this fund-raising tool likely will be positively viewed across the state.