Q&A: Newspaper contest considered lottery

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From The Tribune (New Albany):

Q: In Indiana, when is a newspaper contest considered a lottery and against state statute?

A: The Indiana Gaming Commission has taken the position that if you require a purchase to qualify for the prize, then that’s “consideration given” for a game of chance, aka a lottery.

You can automatically enter someone who subscribes to the paper for a chance to win the prize, but you also have to let someone enter without subscribing. (You don’t have to scream out that option with a 48-point head, but that option does have to exist and be documented in case the gaming commission calls you with a concern.

The gaming commission once called an Indiana daily to halt an NCAA bracket contest because there was a $5 entry fee. The commission felt it was a game of chance, not skill.

The newspaper could have fought it, but if you lose the penalty is criminal. Nobody at the newspaper wanted to take that risk, so they either pulled the entry fee or pulled the plug on the contest.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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