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Politics

Better Know Your Ballot: Prop 4 to Give Texas Pro Sports Teams' Charity Raffles More Playing Time

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flickr/alykat
Proposition 4 looks to expand the number of "50/50" charity raffles that professional sports teams can hold in a given season.

Today, the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros kick off their series in the American League divisional playoffs.

Any other year, that would have nothing to do with the Texas Constitution, but this year’s different. While the teams are on opposite sides of the diamond, this legislative session both teams joined sides for a common goal: charitable raffles.

Those raffles are the subject of one of the seven Constitutional propositions on this November's ballot.

Current law allows the Rangers, Astros and eight other Texas professional sports teams to hold a limited number of what are called 50/50 raffles. Those raffles allow a prize of up to 50 percent of the money collected, with at least 40 percent going to a charity and no more than 10 percent to cover the cost of running the raffle. Those raffles have helped foundations run by the sports teams. Joe Januszewski helped lobby for this proposition during the 2015 legislative session. He's an executive vice president of the Texas Rangers, which has run a foundation since 1991.

"In those 24-plus years, our foundation has given over $14 million to youth programs throughout the great state of Texas,” Januszewski says.

So, more raffles could mean more money for the foundation and more money back into the programs the foundation supports.

“Currently [the law] allows for two of these raffles to happen a year,” says Houston Astros President Reed Ryan. “What we're wanting to do is get a tweak of the current law.”

That little tweak that's on the ballot next month would allow raffles to be held at every home game for any of the 10 professional teams in Texas. In baseball terms, that means an increase from two raffles to 82, with a projected boost in foundation revenue that the teams hope will sway voters no matter who they support on the field.

Early voting in the election begins October 19. Election Day is November 3.

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