BUFFALO, N.Y. — The past two years have been a difficult time for nonprofits to raise money for their causes.
Take the Buffalo Sabres Foundation, the charitable arm of the NHL organization, that’s primary fundraising program is an in-game 50/50 raffle.
"On average it brings in over $1 million a year,” Foundation President Rich Jureller said. “Last year we weren't able to run it because of COVID. This year, we won't reach those numbers because of the impact of COVID on our attendance.”
However, help may be on the way in the form of a new method to sell those tickets. The NY Gaming Commission has proposed regulations to allow the sale through the internet or mobile devices and opened a 60-day public comment period.
Former Governor Cuomo signed the law more than four years ago.
"We couldn't be more excited about it,” Jureller said. “It has been a long time coming. We've been waiting I think since December of 2017 and certainly there's frustrations that come with that. I think, probably, not knowing when it was going to be enacted fully was probably the biggest challenge."
Jureller said when the commission approves regulations, the foundation will be able to sell tickets to people not at the games, allow for presale and potentially hold extra raffles during away games — ultimately bringing in a lot more money for the community.
"I think double is probably what we're going to hope," he said. "If we were going to sort of have an educated guess on where we might get to, I think potential to double the numbers."
The Sabres Foundation is one of the larger entities affected, but the new rules will also be very important to smaller nonprofits like volunteer fire companies that rely on raffle fundraisers to operate.
"I'm excited for the groups, like you mentioned, whether it's a local fire company or whomever that's trying to do some good, trying to raise money to support their efforts,” Jureller said. “This is really going to be a huge opportunity for them as well.”
He said he's not sure how quickly after the public comment period the gaming commission will approve regulations, but the Sabres Foundation will be ready to move as quickly as it's allowed.