Prizes, Raffles, and Awards

Legal Affairs is regularly asked whether it is permissible to offer a prize drawing in order to encourage attendance at a particular event or encourage participation in a survey or study. If UWM wants to award a randomly-drawn prize, it is important that this drawing comply with UW System policy and Wisconsin law:

Wisconsin’s gambling statute prohibits lotteries. The term “lottery” is rather broadly defined as “an enterprise wherein for a consideration the participants are given an opportunity to win a prize, the award of which is determined by chance, even though accompanied by some skill…” Thus, there are three elements to a lottery: a prize, chance, and consideration. In order to make sure that a prize drawing is not considered an illegal lottery under this statute, UWM must eliminate the element of “consideration.” Because attendance at an event with an admission fee or participation in a survey/study could constitute consideration, it is important that eligibility for the drawing not be limited to those individuals who attend the event with an admission fee or participate in the study. Rather, the eligibility for the drawing should be open. For example, if a particular research study involves surveying all UWM alumni, then all alumni should be eligible to enter the drawing, regardless of whether they complete the survey. To this end, in any place where the prize is advertised, it should be clear that participation in the study is not necessary in order to be eligible to enter the drawing; rather, any otherwise eligible individual could enter the drawing through some reasonable means (such as via mail, email, or telephone).