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Lottery Law

Are Lotteries Legal?

Whether or not a lottery is legal depends on individual state laws; there is no national lottery. Approximately 37 states have a state lottery that people can enter for a chance to win cash prizes. However, lotteries that are not run by the state are generally illegal.

Are There Laws Related to Lotteries?

In addition to state laws, there are federal laws that help to regulate lotteries. The primary thing these laws control is the transfer of lottery materials between states.

  • The federal lottery statutes made it illegal to transport lottery materials across state lines, or ship them to other countries
  • The Interstate Wagering Amendment of 1994 made it illegal to procure a ticket for someone in a different state than that in which the lottery was held

Can I Get a Friend to Purchase a Lottery Ticket in Another State for Me?

You may be able to get a friend to purchase a lottery ticket in another state for you without violating lottery laws. The Interstate Wagering Amendment makes it illegal to purchase a ticket for some out of state person for a fee. So, if your friend doesn't charge you for the ticket, he may be able to purchase one for you.

Can I Buy a Lottery Ticket for Another State's Lottery Online?

Forms of online gambling are very controversial these days. It is uncertain how online gambling fits into the state and federal statutes that regulate gambling. Buying a lottery ticket for another state online may or may not be legal. Technically, a company that sells lottery tickets online is not violating the original federal lottery statute because no tickets are physically shipped across state lines. However, it may violate the Interstate Wagering Amendment because tickets are purchased for a person outside of the state. The legality of online lotteries remains uncertain at this time.

What Happens if I Violate a Federal Lottery Statute?

If you violate a federal lottery statute, you may be subject to some stiff penalties. You may receive fines, or up to two years in jail, or both.

What Are International Lottery Scams?

Be alert for advertisements or phone calls that promise a lot of money in international lotteries. Many con artists use the telephone and direct mail to tempt U.S. consumers to participate in foreign lotteries (i.e. in Europe or Australia). They may tell you that they know the secret behind these international lotteries. You should know that these types of offers are illegal in the United States. International sales of lottery tickets by phone or mail are against the law.

How Does the Con Artist Make Money?

Most of these offers for international lotteries are phony. Some of these promoters do not even buy the lottery tickets that they promise. Others will buy the tickets, but will keep anything they win for themselves. Also, if you give these individuals your bank account number, they may try to make withdrawals from your account. If you provide them with a credit card number, they may try to make charges under your name.

How Can I Avoid an International Lottery Scam?

There are certain things you should keep in mind when confronted with such a scam:

  • There are no hidden secrets to winning international lotteries
  • You should keep any financial information about yourself secret – do not reveal them to any scam artists
  • It is a violation of federal law to participate in a foreign lottery over the phone or by mail
  • You may be written down on a "sucker list" if you purchase an international lottery ticket – as such, you can expect more phone calls and more mail offers

If you are confronted with these bogus promotions, ignore them. If you receive such suspicious offers, report it to your local postmaster. You may also wish to contact your State Attorney General.

Should I Consult a Lawyer?

If you have questions about the laws regulating lotteries, or if you are facing charges for violating those laws, you may want to consult a business lawyer with experience in gaming law. An experienced gaming law lawyer will be able to answer any questions you have and make sure you understand your rights.

Call our office today at 212-994-7777 or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.