Lotteries – Raffles
This Customer Support Ruling
discusses the eligibility
of lottery advertisements by authorized nonprofit organizations.
A question was raised as to whether
raffle tickets to be mailed as part of a raffle conducted by a
nonprofit organization would violate the proscription against
mailing lottery tickets set forth in Domestic Mail Manual
As the result of an inquiry from the
Postal Service, the Department of Justice notified Congress that it
will no longer enforce the criminal lottery statute (18 U.S.C.
Section 1302) against gambling advertisement mailers, so long as the
activity advertised is legal and the mailing does not provide any
entry materials. On December 5, 2000, the DMM was amended to revise
the standards governing lotteries to incorporate this change.
While the DMM change revised the
standards governing “advertising” for legal lotteries, it did not
alter the standards that “unlawful matter includes any letter,
newspaper, periodical, parcel, stamped card or postcard, circular,
or other matter permitting or facilitating participation in a
lottery; any lottery ticket or part thereof or substitute; and any
form of payment for a lottery ticket or share.” (Referred to in 18
U.S.C. Section 1302 as “entry materials.”)
Raffles that incorporate “prize,”
“chance,’ and “consideration” are considered lotteries under the
statute and postal standards. “Tickets” for such raffles are
considered unlawful mail matter and remain nonmailable.
When one or more
of the three elements i.e., prize, chance, consideration, are
eliminated from a raffle, the arrangement does not constitute a
lottery for postal purposes. For instance, “consideration” is
eliminated if persons may enter without payment of a fee. Thus, a
nonprofit organization that designs a raffle where it is clear that
a donation is not required (e.g. via a check box, “ Please enter
my name in the drawing. I do not wish to make a donation at this
time”) to participate in the raffle may use the mail to distribute
the tickets for that raffle.
United States Postal Service
Washington DC 20260-3436