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McHenry mayor: City will not extend VFW Queen of Hearts game

Mike and Leslie Torchalski of Cary fill out their raffle tickets during the Queen of Hearts drawing at the McHenry VFW post 4600 on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in McHenry.
Mike and Leslie Torchalski of Cary fill out their raffle tickets during the Queen of Hearts drawing at the McHenry VFW post 4600 on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in McHenry.

McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4600 officials want to extend the Queen of Hearts game another month, but the mayor said it’s not going to happen.

The city put into place stricter rules for the game this year after the last jackpot swelled to more than $7 million before a Schaumburg woman won in September. The Queen of Hearts craze caused traffic problems along Route 120 each week as thousands of people packed the area.

New rules for this round include a stipulation that the game ends by July 31. If a winning ticket is not picked during the next two Tuesday night drawings, a drawdown must be held July 30.

A “drawdown” means cards will be picked until the Queen of Hearts is uncovered.

Tom McCormack, a member of the VFW board, said Tuesday that club members plan to attend Monday’s City Council meeting to float the idea of an extension to August.

Mayor Wayne Jett said Wednesday that the city won’t revisit the matter.

“We have had to change the ordinance six times for this specific business, and I think it’s time to stop doing that,” Jett said. “It makes staff, the council and myself look bad. It’s just not good.”

Under the current ordinance, the maximum individual payout for the game is $3 million, allowing for a maximum pot of $6 million. After the game is over, the maximum payout for raffles in McHenry will drop to $1 million.

The pot currently sits at $4 million.

The City Council adopted a raffle ordinance several years ago with a maximum payout of $100,000.

In September 2017, City Council members agreed to raise the maximum payout to $500,000.

In March 2018, city officials agreed to raise the maximum again – this time to allow for cash prizes up to $1 million. In June 2018, the city raised the maximum payout to $3 million.

In August 2018, the city raised the maximum payout to $6 million.

Rules changed again before the start of the ongoing game and included the new maximum payout limit of $3 million and the set end date.

Queen of Hearts is a game in which 54 cards – a full deck of cards, plus two jokers – are shuffled, put in individual envelopes and then numbered and placed on a board. The object is to find the queen of hearts. Players buy raffle tickets for a chance to select an envelope off the board. If both jokers are chosen, the game resets, and all the previously pulled cards return to the board.

If the queen of hearts is picked, the ticket-holder will receive 50% of the jackpot, 40% will go to the VFW, and 10% will build the next pot.

Queen of Hearts tickets can be purchased at the VFW with cash from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets also will be sold from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday before the drawing.

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