Do Some Promotions Violate Lottery Laws?

I was just thinking about this the other day but I remember some poker rooms running promotions where you earned tickets and then those tickets would enter you into drawings for prizes. I remember them specifically at Party because I helped design some of the promotions. But I’m pretty sure that other poker rooms have run similar promotions. I’m not 100% sure but I seem to recall Tilt running a few along these lines.

The way these promotions work is the poker rooms comes out and says something like, “Hey, for every point you earn playing on the site you get a ticket that will be entered into a drawing for cash and prizes. Earn 500 points and get 500 entries increasing your chances of winning.”

So, how is that different from a lottery?

Or is it more like a drawing/sweepstakes? But I know many states say that you have to offer a way to enter that doesn’t involve buying anything. Would the fact that there is no other way to enter other than to earn points (which are usually, in some way, associated with the amount of rake generated) make them illegal in certain states?

I don’t have any answers on this one. I’ll throw it out to the legal eagles out there to have some fun with.

Bill Rini
Bill Rini is currently the Head of Online Poker for WSOP. He has been working in the online poker industry since 2004 and has held management roles at Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker.

4 thoughts on “Do Some Promotions Violate Lottery Laws?”

  1. @Ian: Not in the US you aren’t. :-)

    @Barry: Interesting but what about sweepstakes. Don’t you have to offer an alternative way to enter if the primary way involves spending money?

  2. Bill:
    Congratulations on continuing to have one of the most interesting and informative poker blogs around. Best wishes for continued excellence and success.


  3. My guess: if you’re already licensed to provide gambling, you’re licensed to run lottery promotions.

  4. My gut on this says that because a ticket isn’t purchased directly for the sole purpose of the lottery type promo, they gets away with it. As its added value from your rake, and also essentially kinda beyond your control that you enter in the first place.

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