Conducting Raffle and Bazaars

Massachusetts law allows a non-profit to conduct raffles, bazaars or gaming events under specific circumstances. You can refer to the website of Massachusetts’ Division of Public Charities for detailed information and regulations relating to raffles and lotteries. See the Attorney General’s webpage titled: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON NONPROFIT GAMING EVENTS. Summary information on this topic follows.

Under Massachusetts law, the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission (MSLC) regulates and taxes raffles and bazaars.   These events may only be conducted by a non-for-profit organization functioning in The Commonwealth of MA for not less than two years.   Key provisions of these regulations follow.   The blue, italicized text is direct quote from documents received from MSLC.   This information is not yet available on the web.   Hard copy may be obtained from MSLC.

  • Raffle is defined as “ an arrangement for raising money by the sale of tickets, certain among which, as determined by chance after the sale, entitle the holders to prizes.”
  • Bazaar is defined as “ a place maintained by the sponsoring organization for disposal by means of chance of one or both of the following types of prizes: (1) merchandise, of any value, (2) cash awards, not to exceed twenty-five dollars each.”
  • Apply for a permit to hold a raffle or bazaar from Newton City Hall.
    • Do this within 30 days of the event: event must be held within 30 days of the Permit date.
  • Receive Raffle and Bazaar Tax Return (Form RBT-1) by mail back from MSLC.
  • The regulations specify that “ …promotion and operation of the raffle or bazaar shall be confined solely to qualifying members of the sponsoring organization and no such member shall receive remuneration in any form for time or effort devoted…
  • Within 30 days after the event, file a certified report on a form approved by the City’s Commissioner of Public Safety with the City; maintain detailed records including on winners.
  • File the Form RBT-1 with MSLC within 10 days of the event and pay the tax calculated at 5% of gross proceeds “ …on activities that:
    • Charge a price for participating involving chance which results in prize awards.
    • [Award prizes] as a condition of charge.   (This would include carnival type activities involving games of chance).
  • Failure to comply with filing RBT-1 carries penalties and interest.
  • May not conduct more than 3 bazaars in one calendar year, or more than one in a day.
  • Contact information for the regulations or Forms:

    The Massachusetts State Lottery Commission
    60 Columbia Street
    Braintree, MA 02184-1738
    Tel: 781-849-5555
    Fax: 781-849-5546