Do any attorneys want to weigh in on this question?
The Obama campaign has already been warned by Minnesota law enforcement officials against running “Backstage with Barack” and “Dinner with Barack” lotteries in Minnesota and possibly Colorado. Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety counseled Obama for America to provide a means of entering to win a chance to meet Barack Obama without making a donation, which would remove the “payment of consideration” element that makes the scheme an illegal lottery. The Obama campaign agreed to do so, but it apparently broke this promise to Minnesota’s law enforcement agencies as of October 31 2008.
We are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice, but Missouri’s definition of illegal gambling is typical of that in most states. Bracketed material relates these definitions to Friday’s E-mail from the Obama campaign, “Will You Join Me on Election Night?” We have meanwhile received three similar E-mails since then. Note also that Barack Obama, an attorney, signed his name to the solicitation that appears below.
Three elements make up an illegal promotion:
1. Prize is any benefit, cash or property awarded to a winner. [“If you’re selected, you can bring a guest, and we’ll fly you in and put you up in a hotel for the night. You’ll go backstage at the big event and — no matter what happens — you’ll have a front row seat to history as we celebrate the supporters who got us over the finish line.”]
2. Chance means the winner is chosen by “luck” with little or no skill or ability involved. [“We’re saving some of the best seats in the house for 5 people who make their first donation to the campaign before Sunday at midnight. If you’re selected…”]
3. Consideration is the exchange of something of value for the opportunity to participate in the game. [“Any donation counts — whatever you can afford. Show your support at this crucial time with a donation of $5 or more, and you could join me on Election Night”]
In addition, Federal law prohibits illegal gambling. (more…)