McHenry raises payout limit for raffles, establishes license fee

McHenry VFW Post 4600 Cmdr. Ben Keefe shows the crowd the Queen of Hearts card during the weekly Queen of Hearts drawing Aug. 27 at the McHenry VFW Post 4600 in McHenry.
McHenry VFW Post 4600 Cmdr. Ben Keefe shows the crowd the Queen of Hearts card during the weekly Queen of Hearts drawing Aug. 27 at the McHenry VFW Post 4600 in McHenry.

The McHenry City Council recently made changes to its raffle ordinance, including raising the payout to $2 million and imposing a raffle license fee.

The payout limit was previously at $1 million. The new $2 million limit is on what a raffle winner can take home.

Mayor Wayne Jett said the council and city staff had been discussing the new limit and they felt comfortable going forward with it.

Raffles don’t impact city resources until they hit the $5 million mark, Jett said.

The city also decided to establish license fees for raffles.

Raffles with a cash or merchandise value of $1 million or more would have a license fee of $2,500; those with a value of $500,000 to $999,000 would have a fee of $1,000 and those with a value of $101,000 to $499,000 would have to pay $500.

There is no fee for raffles with a value of $100,000 or less.

According to village documents, these fees would offset the cost of time spent by staff to process, research, issue and monitor the license.

Another change to the ordinance gives the city council the ability to end a raffle within seven days if they feel there are safety issues or it is adversely impacting city services.

Jett said, if this happened, they would most likely have the raffle organizers do a drawdown. However, he does not think the city will find itself in that situation.

Things the city will take into consideration when deciding whether to shut down a raffle is its parking situation, and the amount of people inside the raffle’s building.

Jett said the city was in touch with the McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4600, which runs the popular Queen of Hearts raffle, as well as other raffle organizers, when making these changes to the ordinance.

He said the VFW was really organized this year for Queen of Hearts, compared to last year, when large crowds drew safety and parking concerns.

“They were 100 times better than what they were last year,” Jett said. “It was set up a lot more efficiently.”

Jett said his goal is to not have to change the raffle ordinance in the future.

“We’re obviously new at this,” he said. “We’re making sure we protect the city as a whole.”

The only council member who voted against the ordinance changes was Ward 2 alderman Andrew Glab, who disagreed with the decision to raise the payout limit.

The VFW Queen of Hearts raffle closed its last game with a drawdown in August. Ticket sales start Tuesday for its next game. The jackpot for Sept. 17 will be $1,239,727, according to the VFW’s Facebook page. Tickets are $5 each.

A voicemail left to the VFW was not returned.

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