What is and is not gambling?

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 a 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 the 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.

What are some suggestions for legal fundraising?

In order to give guidance to organizations interested in fundraising activities to comply with Kansas law, we offer the following suggestions:
1. All promotional materials, tickets, signs, and advertisements should bear a statement that all contributions are strictly
    voluntary. Amounts of voluntary contribution may be suggested, however, under Kansas law, it is illegal to require a
    person to make a specific donation or contribution in order to participate in the gaming part of the event.
2. Individuals are under no obligation to make a contribution and may not be barred from participation if they choose not
    to make a donation.
3. The physical establishment where an event is held may not charge an entrance fee (cover charge) to enter the
    building. This is true whether or not others are in the building for reasons other than the fundraising event.

This information should not be considered an endorsement for any type of stated activity or a recommendation that clubs, organizations, or churches raise funds in this manner. This statement is issued by the Osage County Attorney’s Office to assist the citizens of Osage County in understanding the laws of this state so that they may comply with those laws.