My office frequently receives inquiries from civic groups, churches and other organizations as to whether they may legally conduct a so-called "Las Vegas", "Casino Night" or “Poker Tournament” activity in order to raise funds. Very often these activities are organized so those in attendance are asked to make a contribution to the club or organization sponsoring the event as a condition of being eligible for a prize. Play money or chips are issued to the person and these are used throughout the night to play various games of chance. At the end of the event, prizes may be "purchased" with the play money accumulated, or prizes may be auctioned, and the person most successful at the games of chance will obtain the most valuable prize. It is illegal to require any person to make a donation or contribution in order to gain admittance to "casino night" to play the games.
The conduct of any game of chance in which a prize may be awarded is governed by Kansas law and the only exception is for a bona fide nonprofit religious, charitable, fraternal, educational or veteran organization licensed to manage, operate or conduct bingo games under the laws of the State of Kansas. All other such gaming events constitute a "lottery" that is specifically prohibited by the state's gambling law. A lottery is defined as.....an enterprise wherein for consideration the participants are given an opportunity to win a prize, the award of which is determined by chance." Kansas Statute Annotated 21-6403. The three elements of a lottery are prize, chance and consideration. Consideration is the payment by a person of money or anything of value. Remove any one of those elements and there is no lottery.
In order to give guidance to organizations interested in fund raising activities to comply with Kansas law, we offer the following suggestions: