'Queen of Hearts' jackpot at VFW Post 4600 could inspire change in McHenry

McHENRY – The McHenry City Council will consider amending the city’s raffle ordinance to allow for gamblers to take home larger cash prizes.

McHenry’s ordinance regulating raffles limits the maximum payouts to $100,000. City officials propose raising the limit to $500,000. The change, in part, came about when the city became aware that the “Queen of Hearts” raffle jackpot at McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4600 had hit about $138,000. A winner, therefore, could take home about $83,000, nearing the city limit, according to city documents.

The Queen of Hearts raffle is a progressive game, so if no one wins in the near future, the jackpot will grow, and the winner’s prospective take-home could go beyond $100,000. Winners take home 60 percent of the pot.

Queen of Hearts is a game where 54 cards – a full deck plus two jokers – are put facedown on a board. The object is to pick the queen of hearts. Players buy raffle tickets for a chance to pick a card off the board. If both jokers are chosen, the game resets, and all the previously pulled cards return to the board. One joker remains on the board at Post 4600, Senior Vice Cmdr. Dwayne Lungren said.

In October, the post’s jackpot got up to $32,000 before someone emerged as the lucky winner, he said.

There are 14 cards left on the board, including one joker and the illusive queen of hearts, Lungren said.

Tickets are six for $5. People who pick up a joker or any queen of a different suite win 5 percent of the jackpot, Lungren said.

Proceeds from ticket sales go into the jackpot. Interested players can buy raffle tickets whenever the VFW is open. If a player’s ticket is chosen, he or she wins $100 and a chance to pull a card. The raffle is held Tuesday nights.

“We average over 300 people on Tuesday nights,” Lungren said. “Our parking lot is full. The bar area and banquet hall are all filled.”

A Queen of Hearts game with a jackpot topping $1.6 million at the VFW post in Morris recently was halted after it caused such a stir that the Illinois Gaming Board intervened and instructed the post to obtain a license.

Neither the city of Morris nor Grundy County has an ordinance related to raffles. Club officials need the city to draft one before the game goes forward.

The McHenry City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the McHenry Municipal Center, 333 S. Green St., to consider the matter.

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