Includes video report
The South Carolina State Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would allow charities, schools and churches to hold raffles legally.
Right now the only legal raffle in the state is the lottery. Opponents of this new bill said it would open the door for organized gambling.
However, supporters disagree and said it's common sense to update state law that's more than 200 years old. The activity is practiced among organizations in order to raise money for good causes.
Kathy Graham with The Better Business Bureau Coastal Carolina said many organizations that hold raffles to raise money are not aware that they're breaking the law.
"It's considered a lottery, anytime you buy a ticket for a random drawing for a prize it's a chance a game of chance and it is considered illegal," said Graham.
Graham said holding such raffles are an easy way to raise funds meant to give back to the community but that also raises the question of ethics even if there is good intention involved.
"If you don't know you don't know but if you do know that kinda changes things and you want to give to this good organization but perhaps you might not do it through a lottery," she said, "You want to go on a poker run, with a motorcycle group and they are raffling off a harley to help the burned children victims I mean you don't want to say no to something like that and you give the money but what you don't know is that you are actually participating in breaking the law."
Angela Nicholas with Red Cross Coastal South Carolina chapter said the organization planned a fundraiser raffle a few years back but never went through with the event.
"We had this beautiful idea and these beautiful tickets printed and then it came to my attention that reverse raffles are illegal so we had to cancel the whole event, so that was a learning experience," said Nicholas.
Even though the group was able to find another way to reach its goal Nicholas said if raffles were legalized it could be a fun way to help those who need it the most.
"Anytime you're doing a fundraiser you do have to be cautious with what you're doing and how you're doing it," she said, "You need to make sure that your donors are ok with the activity sometimes there are third parties out in the community who are doing fundraisers on your behalf and of course you don't have quite as much control over that."
Nicholas said if the bill becomes law then the organization may look into holding raffle fundraisers in the future.
The bill that would legalize raffles still has to pass in the house which then needs the governor's signature and be left up to the voters since it requires changing the constitution.