Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Community Missions of Niagara Frontier, Inc.’s annual duck race for charity can proceed this year at Canal Fest. The time-honored tradition came to a halt earlier this month when Community Missions discovered that the fundraiser possibly flouted state law by not obtaining certain approvals. Governor Cuomo has taken action to ensure the charity event continues for the Western New York community, and has engaged the New York State Gaming Commission on expediting any and all approvals needed for Community Missions to move forward with this year's duck race.
"Each year, Community Missions’ charitable duck race raises thousands of dollars to support the organization’s important work for the city’s most vulnerable populations," said Governor Cuomo. "After discussions with the New York State Gaming Commission, we've determined a lawful pathway for this popular event to take place on the Erie Canal this year and in the years ahead. The Commission has reached out to city officials and Community Missions to ensure the proper steps are taken so that the raffle may be legally conducted."
Governor Cuomo continued, “Additionally, I have requested that the Commission proactively contact similarly situated Western New York charitable organizations seeking to hold fundraisers on the Canal to advise them on how they too can proceed legally to raise funds. I am pleased that with this administrative fix, these important traditions will be able to continue for the entire Western New York community.”
"We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo reached out to help us cut through the red tape to allow Community Missions to hold our fun, favorite fundraiser," said Robyn Krueger, Executive Director of Community Missions Of Niagara Frontier, Inc. "By expediting the application process to use a state waterway, the duck race can commence on Saturday, July 23 at Canal Fest, which helps support our mission of serving individuals and families in need. We've provided Compassion in Action to those in need in Niagara County since 1925. With Governor Cuomo's help, our wide range of services will continue."
Community Missions has been holding the annual duck race for decades to raise money for the services it provides. Individuals and organizations can buy plastic ducks which then float down the canal. The sponsors of the winning ducks receive a prize.
Technical Details of How Organizations Can Hold Legal Duck Races on Erie Canal:
Community Missions of Niagara Frontier Inc. can conduct their event, so long as appropriate laws and regulations are followed.
Because Community Missions is domiciled in Niagara Falls and the intended raffle is to occur in North Tonawanda, a variety of procedural approvals must be sought and given:
1. Community Missions must obtain consent from North Tonawanda to conduct the raffle in its jurisdiction by seeking a hardship exemption pursuant to 9E NYCRR § 4603.11(a)(1) and file a Verified Statement for Raffle Ticket Operations (GCVS1) (if a Category 2 raffle).
2. North Tonawanda must identify the Canal as the premises for the conduct of the raffle.
3. North Tonawanda and the Commission must accept the Letter of Consent.
4. Upon acceptance, the Commission will issue a temporary Games of Chance Identification Number to be used for the conduct of the event.
5. If desired, Community Missions must obtain consent to sell raffle tickets in jurisdictions beyond Niagara Falls (where they are domiciled). These are obtained through the Filing of a Raffle Consent Form (GC-RCF) with every municipality where the raffle tickets are to be sold.
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