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Anti-Lottery Laws Prohibit Use of Mail to Promote Lotteries

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Federal statutes prohibit, among other things, the mailing or transportation in interstate or foreign commerce of promotions for lotteries or the sending of lottery tickets themselves. The text of the several statutes is set forth below. For a thoroughgoing analysis see Pic-A-State Pa., Inc. v. Reno, 76 F.3d 1294 (C.A.3 (Pa.), 1996). See also, the analysis and comments by Jeffrey Rodefer at Interstate Wagering Amendments.

Title 18, United States Code

Section 1301. Importing or transporting lottery tickets

Whoever brings into the United States for the purpose of disposing of the same, or knowingly deposits with any express company or other common carrier for carriage, or carries in interstate or foreign commerce any paper, certificate, or instrument purporting to be or to represent a ticket, chance, share, or interest in or dependent upon the event of a lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme, offering prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance, or any advertisement of, or list of the prizes drawn or awarded by means of, any such lottery, gift, [1] enterprise, or similar scheme; or being engaged in the business of procuring for a person in one state such a ticket, chance, share, or interest in a lottery, gift, enterprise or similar scheme conducted by another state (unless that business is permitted under an agreement between the states in question or appropriate authorities of those states), knowingly transmits in interstate or foreign commerce information to be used for the purpose of procuring such a ticket, chance, share, or interest; or knowingly takes or receives any such paper, certificate, instrument, advertisement, or list so brought, deposited, or transported, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more that two years, or both.

Section 1302. Mailing lottery tickets or related matter

Whoever knowingly deposits in the mail, or sends or delivers by mail:

Any letter, package, postal card, or circular concerning any lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme offering prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance;

Any lottery ticket or part thereof, or paper, certificate, or instrument purporting to be or to represent a ticket, chance, share, or interest in or dependent upon the event of a lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme offering prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance;

Any check, draft, bill, money, postal note, or money order, for the purchase of any ticket or part thereof, or of any share or chance in any such lottery, gift enterprise, or scheme;

Any newspaper, circular, pamphlet, or publication of any kind containing any advertisement of any lottery, gift enterprise, or scheme of any kind offering prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance, or containing any list of the prizes drawn or awarded by means of any such lottery, gift enterprise, or scheme, whether said list contains any part or all of such prizes;

Any article described in section 1953 of this title

-- shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both; and for any subsequent offense shall be imprisoned not more than five years.

Section 1303. Postmaster or employee as lottery agent [2]

Whoever, being an officer or employee of the Postal Service, acts as agent for any lottery office, or under color of purchase or otherwise, vends lottery tickets, or knowingly sends by mail or delivers any letter, package, postal card, circular, or pamphlet advertising any lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme, offering prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance, or any ticket, certificate, or instrument representing any chance, share, or interest in or dependent upon the event of any lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme offering prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance, or any list of the prizes awarded by means of any such scheme, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Title 39, United States Code

Section 3005. False representations; lotteries

(a) Upon evidence satisfactory to the Postal Service that any person is engaged in conducting a scheme or device for obtaining money or property through the mail by means of false representations, including the mailing of matter that is nonmailable under Section 3001(d), (h), or (i) of this title, or is engaged in conducting a lottery, gift enterprise, or scheme for the distribution of money or of real or personal property, by lottery, chance, or drawing of any kind, the Postal Service may issue an order that --

(1) directs the postmaster of the post office at which mail arrives, addressed to such a person or representative, to return such mail to the sender appropriately marked as in violation of this section, if the person or the representative is first notified and given reasonable opportunity to be present at the receiving post office to survey the mail before the postmaster returns the mail to the sender;

(2) forbids the payment by a postmaster to the person or representative of any money order or postal note drawn to the order of either and provides for the return to the remitter of the sum named in the money order or postal note; and

(3) requires the person or representative to cease and desist from engaging in any such scheme, device, lottery, or gift enterprise.

For purposes of the preceding sentence, the mailing of matter that is nonmailable under such Section 3001(d), (h), or (i) by any person shall constitute prima facie evidence that such person is engaged in conducting a scheme or device for obtaining money or property through the mail by false representations.

(b) The public advertisement by a person engaged in activities covered by subsection (a) of this section, that remittances may be made by mail to a person named in the advertisement, is prima facie evidence that the latter is the agent or representative of the advertiser for the receipt of remittances on behalf of the advertiser. The Postal Service may ascertain the existence of the agency in any other legal way satisfactory to it.

(c) As used in this section and section 3006 of this title, the term "representative" includes an agent or representative acting as an individual or as a firm, bank, corporation, or association of any kind.

(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the mailing of --

(1) publications containing advertisements, lists of prizes, or information concerning a lottery that are exempt, pursuant to section 1307 of title 18 of the United States Code, from the provisions of sections 1301, 1302, 1303, and 1304 of title 18 of the United States Code,

(2) tickets or other materials concerning such a lottery within that state to addresses within that state, or

(3) an advertisement promoting the sale of a book or other publication, or a solicitation to purchase, or a purchase order for any such publication, if

(A) such advertisement, solicitation, or purchase order is not materially false or misleading in its description of the publication;

(B) such advertisement, solicitation, or purchase order contains no material misrepresentation of fact: provided, however, that no statement quoted or derived from the publication shall constitute a misrepresentation of fact as long as such statement complies with the requirements of subparagraphs (A) and (C); and

(C) the advertisement, solicitation, or purchase order accurately discloses the source of any statements quoted or derived from the publication. Paragraph (3) shall not be applicable to any publication, advertisement, solicitation, or purchase order which is used to sell some other product in which the publisher or author has a financial interest as part of a commercial scheme. For the purposes of this subsection, "state" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any territory or possession of the United States.

(e)

(1) In conducting an investigation to determine if a person is engaged in any of the activities covered by subsection (a) of this section, the Postmaster General (or any duly authorized agent of the Postmaster General) may tender, at any reasonable time and by any reasonable means, the price advertised or otherwise requested for any article or service that such person has offered to provide through the mail.

(2) A failure to provide the article or service offered after the Postmaster General or agent has tendered the price advertised or otherwise requested in the manner described in paragraph (1) of this subsection, and any reasons for such failure, may be considered in a proceeding held under section 3007 of this title to determine if there is probable cause to believe that a violation of this section has occurred.

(3) The Postmaster General shall prescribe regulations under which any individual seeking to make a purchase on behalf of the Postal Service under this subsection from any person shall --

(A) identify themselves as an employee or authorized agent of the Postal Service, as the case may be;

(B) state the nature of the conduct under investigation; and

(C) inform such person that the failure to complete the transaction may be considered in a proceeding under section 3007 of this title to determine probable cause, in accordance with paragraph (2) of this subsection.


End notes:

[1] So in original. The comma probably should not appear

[2] Section catchline was not amended to conform to change made in the text by Pub. L. 91-375.