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Setting Up or Promoting a Lottery

A conviction for setting up or promoting a lottery carries the possibility of a state prison sentence.

Elements of Setting Up or Promoting a Lottery

In order to convict the defendant of setting up or promoting a lottery, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant set up or promoted a lottery, disposed of something of value by means of a lottery, or aided a lottery; and
  2. The defendant intended to make the disposal of something of value dependent upon or connected with chance by numbers, a game, or another gambling device.

A lottery involves the payment of a price for the possibility of winning a prize, depending upon luck or chance. A person can “aid” a lottery by printing or writing lottery tickets, or by selling or offering them for sale, or by managing or conducting a lottery drawing.

Common Defenses and Defense Strategies

  • Defendants are often charged with this crime after a search warrant is executed and incriminating evidence is discovered. Evidence typically includes betting slips, lottery tickets, or video poker machines. The first step in these cases is to examine the search warrant and, if appropriate, file a motion to suppress the seized evidence.  In the past, these cases would often result from raids of convenience stores.  Convenience store owners would have their legitimate business in the main part of the store and run illegal betting operations in the back room.  At some point, an informant would tip off the police, who would obtain a search warrant.  These underground gambling parlors have become more rare, in all likelihood due to the expansion of legalized gambling and the opening of the Encore Boston Harbor Casino in Everett.
  • While a conviction for setting up or promoting a lottery carries potentially serious consequences, it is a relatively minor crime. Sometimes the Commonwealth can be convinced to dismiss these cases upon the payment of court costs and forfeiture of the machines. This is known as a “public peace” crime and some prosecutors do not want to commit their time and resources to pursuing what can be characterized as a victimless crime. Attorney Spring will aggressively seek to convince prosecutors that dismissal of these charges is appropriate in your case.

Violating the illegal lottery statute can result in a maximum penalty of three years in state prison, which seems like a disproportionate penalty.  In practice, defendants who are charged with administering unlawful lottery schemes usually do not face severe penalties.  However, it’s important for defendants to take these charges seriously and to hire attorneys to represent them in court.  It is also important, as always, for a defendant to consult with an attorney before deciding to speak to the police.  While you may believe that you are not providing the police with harmful information, your statement could end up incriminating you at trial. Police sometimes believe that small store owners who hide lottery machines in their businesses are connected to more sophisticated criminal enterprises. Therefore, detectives who work for the criminal bureaus of local police departments may be interested in talking to you if you were found in possession of any type of lottery machine.

Call Us Today

Middlesex County criminal defense Attorney Chris Spring has both prosecuted and defended lottery cases during his career and is available to meet with you to discuss your options.  Call Attorney Spring today to schedule a free consultation regardless of whether you’ve been accused of filing a false police report or forgery.