What is a Basic Electronic Raffle?

The video above is a very simplified explanation of how electronic raffles work.  If you don't feel like reading this article you can get the coles notes version in the video.  In the following article I will explain some of the concepts in more detail along with giving some background information on raffles and how electronic raffles systems have become so popular for major sporting events, and how they are different from online raffles.

Electronic Raffle Systems use Bearer Tickets

Most electronic raffles or electronic raffle systems are event based raffles.  This generally means the tickets are sold without taking any personal identifiers of the raffle purchasers.  The raffle tickets sold are also called bearer tickets.    As most of these bearer raffles are event-based, taking significant personal details of ticket purchasors is time-consuming and
problematic to do on a large scale in a short amount of time. Historically the tickets are typically just serial numbered and sold from books and a serial numbered ticket stub or counterfoil is drawn indicating the winner.  When the winning ticket stub is drawn, whoever is holding (bearer) the corresponding ticket is the winner.

As the popularity of raffles has increased there has been some innovation and development
in the creation and deployment of electronic ticketing and administration systems for use
with these types of raffles. The use of an electronic system to sell and issue the bearer tickets and administer the necessary data to allow for the conduct of such a raffle or draw provides for the ability to sell the tickets in larger volume at a rapid pace.

The electronic systems which have been developed for use in the sales of bearer tickets in these types of circumstances typically comprise several handheld raffle sales units,
operatively connected by a communications network back to a central server and database.  Tickets sales are conducted by operators of the raffle sales units, who use those terminals to issue the tickets desired by a customer.  Discounted tickets are often used.  An example of discounted tickets is 1 ticket for $5.00, 3 tickets for $10.00 and 10 tickets for $20.00.   if a customer indicated that they wanted to buy three tickets, the operator of the raffle sales units can use that terminal to enter the number of tickets desired.  The raffle sales unit can then typically print the ticket with a built-in printer or blue-toothed printer for the customer.

Electronic 50/50 Raffles

The most common type of bearer raffle is often known as a 50/50 raffle.  50/50 raffle tickets are sold with the proceeds being aggregated.  The winner of this type of raffle will receive 50% of the jackpot while the sponsor or charity will receive the other 50%.  The 50/50 raffle is popular because there is very little risk to the charity with regards to putting up a prize and raffle ticket purchasers perceive this as good value.

Electronic Raffles Signage

Electronic raffles have made the 50/50 raffle even more popular because jackpot totals are updated live to screens around the venue fueling even more excitement.  Having a jumbotron is nice, but not necessary.  We have used ipads on ticket sellers, jackpot totals directly to charity websites, projected the jackpot totals onto walls, and made them available for ticket purchasers on their phones or personal devices.

Electronic Raffle Draw

Each ticket which is issued to a purchasor is serially numbered or identified, and the
issuance of the unique tickets is tracked in a central administrative database to ensure that
only unique ticket identifiers were used. As well, that central database is used to keep track of the identifiers of each ticket sold for the purpose of administering the actual raffle or draw.  Either ticket stubs are printed by hi-speed printers onsite or a random number generator is used to choose the winning ticket(s).  Random number generators are not allowed in Canada at the time of writing this article, but we are hopeful for 2015.  They would be state specific in the US, but would certainly have to be certified by an independent gaming lab.

Online Raffles vs Electronic Raffles

Electronic raffle are not to be confused with online raffles.  Using definitions supplies by  GLI the two types of raffles are quite different.

Electronic Raffle System is defined as computer software and related equipment used by raffle licencees or charitable organisations to sell tickets, account for sales, and facilitates the drawing of tickets to determine the winners.

This is a very generalized statement, but for the most part GLI is referring to event based raffles that utilize the computer software and hardware utilized by charity volunteers to sell bearer tickets to patrons attending the event.

Online raffles are very different in that they can supply e-tickets and the ticket purchasers do not have to be in attendance to any event.   With an online raffle personal information is taken from the purchaser and it is not a bearer raffle.  See the definition below.

On-line Purchasing Platform refers to the Raffle System hardware and software which drives the features common to all raffles offered, and which forms the primary interface to the Raffle System for both the patron and the operator. The On-line Purchasing Platform provides the patron with the means to register an account, log in to/out of their account, modify their account information, make ticket purchases, request account activity statement/reports, and close their account. In addition, any web pages displayed to the patron that relate to ticket purchasing offered on the Raffle System. The On-line Purchasing Platform provides the operator with the means to review patron accounts, enable/disable raffles, generate various raffle/financial transaction and account reports, input raffle outcomes, enable/disable patron accounts, and set any configurable parameters.

Electronic Raffles are far more commonplace as they are legal in more jurisdictions.  Technology moves faster than regulators and it is our hope that both these types of raffles will be widespread in the years to come to help charities fund their worthy causes.

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