December 4, 2006
Clayton, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon on Friday (Dec. 1) obtained a court order to stop a St. Louis man from advertising and selling $300 raffle tickets. Nixon said the defendant, Darwin L. Ballard, apparently intended to use proceeds from the raffle to benefit himself.
The Missouri constitution limits raffle sponsors to "organizations recognized as charitable or religious pursuant to federal law." Ballard does not meet that definition, Nixon said, and also violated Missouri consumer protection laws by making other misrepresentations in connection with the raffle.
According to the consent preliminary injunction entered in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Ballard placed a advertisement in the Nov. 10 edition of the North County Journal, offering to sell raffle tickets for $300 apiece. The ad said ticket buyers would have a chance to win a "dream home" in the St. Louis area, a Corvette, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, or one of several other prizes or cash substitutes.
The total value of the prizes was stated as being more than $1 million, with the drawing scheduled for Dec. 24. The ad also stated that the prizes were based on sales of 8,000 tickets, and that refunds would be provided if the minimum sale of tickets was not met.
"No doubt Mr. Ballard intended for someone's Christmas to be a little brighter this year — his own," Nixon said. "Games of chance in Missouri are regulated and limited to protect Missourians from possible fraud. This raffle fell well outside the bounds of the law."
Nixon said Ballard, who does business as DB's Sport-It, also told a representative of the St. Louis Better Business Bureau that the home mentioned in the ad would be built by a prominent local home builder. Legal counsel for the home builder told the Attorney General's Office the company had no connection with Ballard.
The order from the court stops Ballard from advertising or selling any more tickets or conducting the raffle. Ballard also has been ordered to provide the Attorney General's Office with an accounting of how much money was collected and the names of those from whom he collected money. He cannot withdraw or transfer any money collected from the ticket sales. Nixon said his office would continue to investigate to determine the issues of consumer restitution and potential penalties and costs to be paid to the state.