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Is this a legal "Contest" in the US?

Brooklyn, NY |

Can the speed and timing of a an entry to a "contest" be considered a "skill", therefore offsetting the Consideration aspect of a lottery.


If there is a theoretical countdown to a private contest opening, and the winner is the person that hits a theoretical button the fastest, can you charge for entry to this theoretical "contest?" This seems similar to a carnival game or arcade, no?

Now, if you take the radio station model, apply it to our theoretical contest and say, "The 100th person to hit the button wins," could you still charge entry to this contest?

I understand that lottery laws vary. I am asking about US, only, and not about places where contests are prohibited.

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Filed under: Gaming law
Attorney answers 1


If you charge for entry in a contest, you are probably violating federal and/or state gaming law. Radio stations which run contests to not charge for entry.



You are absolutely allowed to charge for contests when there is an element of skill involved, and the winner selection is not random (voted, or judged). A quick second Google search shows many examples of this. Here's one: And another: So my question is whether the speed of entry to a contest can be considered a "skill."

Maurice N Ross

Maurice N Ross


Just because you can find some examples does not make them legal. There are of course some circumstances where you can charge an entrance fee into a contest---for example, a horse race or boxing tournament. But this involves contests that require athletic skill, dancing skill, singing skill. Your "contest" would probably not make the cut. You cannot charge for entry into a lottery or other such contest that does not involve skill. Pushing a buttom faster won't do it.



Those examples are legal. That was my question. Thanks!

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