Naturally occurring event lottery proposed

Nebraskans would have a new lottery option under a bill heard by the General Affairs Committee Jan. 25.

LB820, introduced by Venango Sen. Dan Hughes, would allow a lottery or raffle in which the winners are determined based on the timing of a naturally occurring event, such as a weather event.

The possible timing of the naturally occurring event would be indicated on tickets sold to participants in the lottery or raffle. A licensed organization using this method would be required to comply with all other requirements of the Nebraska Lottery and Raffle Act.

Hughes said the bill would provide additional fundraising opportunities for worthwhile causes across Nebraska.

“It would be available to all nonprofits in the state who would want to use it as a fundraising [tool],” he said.

Ted Tietjen, long-range planning chairperson for the Nebraska Lions Club, testified in support of the bill, saying it would allow the Lions Club to pursue a raffle based on weather events in Nebraska. He said the idea is based on a raffle in which players guess the exact time that the ice breaks up on an Alaskan river.

“I first ran into this when I was in Alaska and was very intrigued by the Nenana Ice Classic,” he said, adding that winners recently were awarded $363,000.”

Al Riskowski, executive director of the Nebraska Family Alliance, testified in opposition to LB820, saying it would result in unconstitutional expanded gambling in Nebraska. He said the type of contest outlined in the bill does not fit the existing definition of a charitable raffle because a winner is not chosen at random.

In addition, he said, the bill lacks definition regarding what kinds of lotteries or raffles would be included under its provisions.

“The term ‘naturally occurring event’ could include a vast array of events,” Riskowski said.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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