Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen today announced three veterans’ organizations in the state will receive $25,000 as part of a settlement agreement involving an illegal raffle enterprise and the Montana Department of Justice’s Gambling Control Division.
A series of online nationwide and international raffles were held by South Carolina non-profit Providing Hope VA from September 5, 2020 through December 31, 2020; it was found that the organization was selling raffle tickets in other states where such sales were illegal. Additionally, it applied a substantial portion of raffle proceeds to administrative costs rather than maximizing monies donated to veterans’ charities. Providing Hope VA’s voluntarily entered into the settlement agreement, agreeing to pay $35,000.
“The Montana Department of Justice is dedicated to protecting consumers and ensuring Montanans’ donations to charitable organizations are used for their intended purpose. This settlement holds the respondent accountable and ensures proceeds help our veterans, which was the original intent of those who participated in these raffles,” Attorney General Knudsen said. Knudsen also noted, “This settlement was a creative solution to put raffle ‘administrative expenses’ back to work for veterans here in Montana.”
Three Montana charities that serve veterans in our state will benefit from the settlement:
• Montana Warriors on the Water, which serves veterans by chartering fishing trips at Fort Peck ($5,000),
• Montana Wounded Warriors, based in Kalispell, which offers guided hunting trips as a part of the healing journey ($5,000), and
• Montana Veterans Foundation, which provides housing and resources for homeless veterans at the Willis Cruse House in Helena ($15,000)
Reaction from beneficiary organizations:
“As a stand-alone non-profit, Montana Wounded Warriors, Inc. is grateful for this donation. We are an all-volunteer board, so every donation is utilized to provide all-expense paid hunting and fishing trips for our Montana veterans injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. The organization has very little overhead, so every donation is nearly 100% expended on our qualifying veterans. This donation of $5,000 will be fully utilized by our organization for our participating veterans. Thank you!” -Kristi Taylor, Secretary/Treasurer, Montana Wounded Warriors
“This $5,000 donation will have a profound effect on the ability of Montana Warriors on the Water to offer opportunities to Montana veterans to participate in fishing and hunting trips. All the trips we offer are expense-free to our selected veterans. Through these trips, we are able to help veterans experience camaraderie, to give them the opportunity of forming life-long friendships, and to have the support of each other as well as our dedicated volunteers. Our Board of Directors thanks all those involved in securing these funds. As an all-volunteer Montana nonprofit, we rely on generous donations like this to make a difference. We pledge to use them to further our mission.” –John Morford, Executive Director, Montana Warriors On The Water
“For over twenty years, the Willis Cruse House has empowered veterans to take their first steps toward self-sufficiency; more than 900 veterans have shared a part of their journey within our walls. While the onset of COVID-19 was unfortunate, it came with an incredible opportunity for our foundation: We are excited to announce the opening of a larger facility that will offer expanded capacity, programming, and on-site recovery workshops. We are so thankful for this incredible donation that will allow us to continue our mission of serving those who served.” -Desiree Bain, Director, Montana Veterans Foundation
Under the settlement agreement, an additional $10,000 will go the state general fund and Providing Hope VA’s nonprofit raffle registration will be revoked in Montana.
Read the settlement agreement here.
PRESS RELEASE PROVIDED BY MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE