Monthly Archives: January 2018

Are Sweepstakes Gambling?

to pay or not to pay

When people find out that I am a sweepstaker and have been lucky enough to win some great prizes, I inevitably get asked if I play the lottery.  And I always reply that I don’t because I never pay to win.  Playing games of chance by betting money is gambling.  And many people are surprised to find out that sweepstaking is not gambling.  Sweepstakes always have a free method of entry.  You never have to pay a fee to play or to collect your prize.

Yesterday I came across an interesting article in the news that questioned whether someone opposed to gambling is a hypocrite for entering sweepstakes.  But the issue was a little more complicated than that

The article (found here) discussed vocal anti-gambling “crusader” Kathy Gilroy, who has been responsible for shutting down charity raffles that do not have proper licensure.  Gilroy entered a $25000 sweepstakes at a sweepstakes café and won.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “Gilroy has a history of playing and winning sweepstakes. She said she’s landed prizes including electronics and trips to the Bahamas and California. She once won a big-screen TV from a mechanic, but asked instead for $1,000 in service. A week later, her transmission went out, and she quickly got her money’s worth.”

In a video included with the Tribune article, Gilroy explains that sweepstakes are not gambling because by law you do not have to pay to win.  But what I found interesting about this case, was that the large sum of money won by Gilroy was from a sweepstakes café.  A sweepstakes café, according to Wikipedia is “an establishment that gives away chances to win prizes with the purchase of a product or service, typically internet access or telephone cards.”

The Tribune uncovered that: “After every fifth visit to a cafe, [Gilroy] got a scratch-off card, which occasionally won her a $5 card to play the machines or entries for the grand prize.”

But it seems to me, that even if the cards are free every fifth visit, she still had to pay to play the other four times.  It was this pay to play that won her entries into the grand prize.

So was it really free entry into the sweepstakes? Her opponents call her a hypocrite.  Yet Gilroy does not differentiate between sweepstakes café wins and conventional sweepstakes wins.

What do you think?

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