A raffle is a competition in which people buy numbered tickets. Originating in southern Italy, it is a popular game in numerous countries, and is often held to raise funds for a specific event, charity or occasion.
The raffle involves many people buying tickets for a chance to win a certain prize or certain prizes. At a set date, the winners are drawn from a bucket containing a copy of every number or a tombola (from Italian: tombola ['to:mbola]). The bought ticket is then checked against a collection of prizes with numbers attached to them.
A raffle also often involves several different possible prizes that can be won, and a ticket will simply be drawn from the group at random for each of the prizes one by one. In this manner, you are not playing the raffle to win a specific prize, but rather for the possibility of winning any one of the possible prizes, as the prizes do not have any specific numbers attached to them. A ticket is drawn for the winner of prize 1, that ticket is then left out of the container. A ticket is then drawn for the winner of prize 2, and that ticket is left out of the container, and so on. this continues until all of the prizes have been won.
Raffles are commonly held at large events such as yearly company picnics, carnivals and fairs, automobile shows, and others.
When holding your own raffle, a common practice for getting more money from the sale of tickets is to offer a large amount of tickets for a discounted price. The people buying the tickets tend to spend more money on tickets thinking that they have a better chance to win the prizes with more raffle tickets. Since the tickets themselves cost very little money to produce, and the expense of the prizes has already been set, the amount of tickets sold really creates no additional cost for the raffle holders.
In the United Kingdom, raffles are occasionally used to circumvent licensing laws. While only licensed premises are permitted to sell alcohol, there is no restriction on the offering of alcohol as prizes in contests. As such, at certain events, attendees are able to enter a raffle, for which they purchase a ticket and then retrieve their prize, which is invariably an alcoholic drink.
In Australia and Minnesota, meat raffles are commonplace in pubs, and registered clubs. Trays of meat or seafood are raffled off to raise money for a cause, usually a local sporting club.