Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1955 No. 22 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


Where members of the general public are invited without cost or condition to deposit names and addresses into a box at a home show, or some similar public function, with the understanding that a free lot will be given away, they are not participating in an illegal lottery since there is no consideration given for the chance.

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                                                                February 14, 1955

Honorable Della Urquhart
Director of Licenses
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 22

Dear Mrs. Urquhart:

             You have requested our formal opinion as to whether or not the following promotion scheme constitutes a lottery.

             The public is invited to deposit individual names and addresses in a box at a home show or some similar public function.  Thereafter many of those individuals are notified that they have won a free real estate lot and are requested to appear at a particular place on a given date to claim it.  Those who appear are then shown, with the hope of effecting a sale, other more desirable lots by real estate salesmen.  An opportunity is afforded of turning in the free lot as part payment on the better lot.

             Our opinion is that the scheme does not constitute a lottery.


             Lotteries, of course, are illegal in this state.  Washington Constitution, Art. II, § 24.  RCW 9.59.010 defines a lottery as:

             "A lottery is a scheme for the distribution of money or property by chance, among persons who have paid or agreed to pay a valuable consideration  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] for the chance, whether it is called a lottery, raffle, gift enterprise, or by any other name, and is hereby declared unlawful and a public nuisance.

             "Every person who contrives, proposes, or draws a lottery, or assists in contriving, proposing, or drawing a lottery, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for not more than five years, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by both."

             The elements of a lottery are (1) prize, (2) chance, and (3) consideration.  State ex rel. Evans v. Brotherhood of Friends, 41 Wn. (2d) 133; State v. Danz, 140 Wash. 456; Society Theatre v. Seattle, 118 Wash. 258.

             The question to determine is whether or not the scheme outlined is a lottery.  Each member of the public who accepts the invitation to deposit his name and address in the box, pays or promises nothing for the privilege.  The inviter offers only a gratuitous chance to win a free lot.  The participating member of the public would have no recourse if the inviter decided not to award any prize to any participant.  Thus, the element of valuable consideration is lacking.

             It is our opinion that the scheme outlined does not constitute a lottery since there is no valuable consideration given for the privilege of participating.

 Very truly yours,
Attorney General 

Assistant Attorney General