MONTANA — Attorney General Austin Knudsen recently announced three veterans’ organizations in the state will soon receive donations as a result of civil penalties assessed as part of a settlement agreement involving an illegal raffle enterprise and the Montana Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Gambling Control Division.
In a press release, a series of online nationwide and international raffles were held by South Carolina non-profit, Providing Hope VA, from Sept. 5, 2020 - Dec. 31, 2020. The attorney general’s office says it was found that the organization was selling raffle tickets in other states where such sales were illegal.
Additionally, they 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 and made the payments.
As part of the settlement, the Gambling Control Division chose three charities to 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).
· Montana Veterans Foundation, which provides housing and resources for homeless veterans at the Willis Cruse House in Helena ($15,000).
Reaction from beneficiary organizations (from the press release):
“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,” says Kristi Taylor, Montana Wounded Warrior Secretary/Treasurer. “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.”
“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,” says John Morford, Executive Director for the Montana Warriors on the Water. “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.”
“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,” says Desiree Bain, Executive Director of Montana Veterans 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.”
Under the settlement agreement, $10,000 will go the state general fund. Additionally, Providing Hope VA’s nonprofit raffle registration will be revoked in Montana.
Read the settlement agreement here.