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Prizes may cost you more than taxes

Posted at 7:13 PM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-05 21:30:20-05

Machelle Glassburn says she'd never won a contest in her life until her raffle ticket was chosen in the Fall of 2017.

"I was excited," she said.

She had won a 2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport with a sticker price of nearly $35,000.

The ticket showed that she would be responsible for taxes, license and doc fees, which she says would amount to about $4000.

"I thought 'okay that's doable,'" said Glassburn. She also had the option of taking a $17,500 cash buyout.

Glassburn chose the Jeep.

But she said when she went to pick it up, the numbers kept adding up. She said there was an additional $1000 to pay for the hardtop option on the Jeep, plus "the full entire cost of the raffle," she said.  

That amount combined with what she had already ready expected to pay put the Jeep out of reach.

"They basically wanted to charge me $8200 to buy my prize," said Glassburn. "I'm thinking okay that doesn't sound right."

Glassburn's ticket lists some but not all of the terms of the contest. It refers participants to a website to get the official rules, but they weren't available.

After questioning the costs, she said she received an email from the Highland High School Football booster club. Five rules in, it lists the winner's responsibilities. They include the fee listed on the ticket and, "any other expenses not specifically listed herein."

Non-profits and booster clubs are exempt from gaming law so Glassburn said, "they could basically charge me what any fees that wanted."

A member of the booster club tells me the raffle was "very successful" and "helped pay for new uniforms" for the football team.   

He explained that the additional charges were to "pay for the marketing" of the raffle, including the printing of several thousand color tickets.

Unable to afford the Jeep, Glassburn took the cash.

And while she says she is grateful for what she got, she hopes future raffles will be upfront about all the costs.

"I would either like non-profits to held to the same laws that other gaming is held here in Arizona or I would like them to be transparent," she said.

The booster club tells me the raffle was its first fundraiser and if there is another, "we are absolutely going to put that (additional fees) on there (the ticket)."

Non-profit raffles may have exemptions that you don't expect, so it's a good idea to ask how much you are on the hook for, just in case you win.