Linda Nelson, auxiliary membership chairwoman with the McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4600, said as of 10 a.m. Sunday, about 40,000 tickets for the latest Queen of Hearts drawing have been sold.
This marks a significant downturn from the hundreds of thousands of tickets collected every week last year which eventually required the VFW to switch from a 5,000-gallon drum to a giant horse trough to hold them all.
“Your chances will be great this first week,” Nelson said.
However, with new upgrades to the building and more being planned, Nelson said she’s looking forward to holding big crowds once again hankering for a shot at a jackpot currently worth $3.4 million.
Jim Cichon of Chicago said when he came to the McHenry VFW’s Queen of Hearts raffle last year, he noticed many people creating problems.
With the hundreds of attendees swarming the building every Tuesday to try and be the lucky winner of a pot that peaked at more than $7 million, Cichon said there were a lot of problems with people obeying the proper signage to guide traffic.
But with a new parking lot set up, Cichon said that the VFW is trying to make a better community and he is ready to play for the new pot.
“If it’s meant to happen, it’s meant to happen,” Cichon said as he bought tickets Sunday.
The first Queen of Hearts drawing will take place 8 p.m. Tuesday at the VFW but will come with a few changes from last year’s game.
Last year, the ticket holder who picked the queen of hearts out of a board of 54 cards received 60% of the jackpot, the VFW received 20% to make improvements and support veterans programs and 20% went to starting the next jackpot.
This year, the ticket holder will receive 50% of the jackpot, 40% will go to the VFW and veterans programs and 10% will build the next pot.
But instead of drawing for 54 cards, two jokers and cards running 10 through ace will be used, each of which will carry a certain monetary amount if picked.
If a 10 is drawn, the ticket holder will receive $5,000. Jacks will be worth $10,000 to the ticket holder, kings will be worth $15,000, aces will be worth $20,000, the three queens other than the queen of hearts will be worth $25,000 and the jokers will be worth $30,000.
Nelson said the event is a VFW fundraiser, not a lottery or a casino, and the money received will go back to veterans’ organizations.
“We’re not money hungry or greedy,” Nelson said. “We’re keeping programs going.”
Tickets will be $5 apiece – as opposed to last year where tickets were six for $5 – and can only be bought at the McHenry VFW with cash.
Connie Fischer of Woodstock said all of the changes to the VFW are positive and the higher ticket prices do not deter her from playing.
“Five dollars is less than what I spend on gas coming here,” Fischer said.
Hours to buy tickets are 9 a.m. to
8 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets also will be sold from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday before the drawing.
Under a new city ordinance, the game must finish by July 30. Nelson said if it gets to that point, a draw down will be performed with a modified set of rules.
In accordance with this new ordinance, the maximum individual payout for the game will be $3 million, allowing for a maximum jackpot of $6 million.
Kathy Konishi of Carpentersville said she thinks the new rules to the game make sense and are easier to understand.
“If you don’t like the rules, don’t play,” Konishi said.
Ticket holders will have 24 hours to contact the McHenry VFW and make arrangements to verify their ticket and receive their prize. A government-issued ID is required to receive any prize.
The ticket portion marked “keep this coupon” must be presented to claim the payout.