Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Lottery Definition:

An offer in which prizes and high value items are awarded by random chance to participants who buy lottery tickets.

Related Terms: Sweepstakes

In R. v. Stucky, Justice Gans wrote:

"A lottery is an offer in which prizes and high value items are awarded by random chance to participants who buy lottery tickets.

"Lotteries do not have a skill requirement.

"In Canada, only governments and licensed charities are allowed to conduct lotteries. Examples of typical Canadian lotteries are the 6/49 Lottery, the Super 7 Lottery, and the Heart & Stroke Foundation Lottery.  Lotteries can take many forms, including passive drawings (lottery tickets), scratch-off instant win games and video lottery games."

In Atkinson v Murrell, Justice Dilhorne of the House of Lords suggested that:

"... for there to be a lottery, the participants must pay for their chances."

In Readers Digest, Justice Widgery of the same Court:

"A lottery is the distribution of prizes by chance where the persons taking part in the operation, or a substantial number of them, make a payment or consideration in return for obtaining their chance of a prize.

"There are really three points one must look for in deciding whether a lottery has been established: first of all, the distribution of prizes; secondly, the fact that this was to be done by means of a chance; and thirdly, that there must be some actual contribution made by the participants in return for them obtaining a chance to take part in the lottery....

[T]he evil which the lottery law has thought to prevent with the evil which existed where poor people with only a few pence to feed their children would go and put the these few pence into a lottery and lose them, and this sociologically was a bad thing. It is for that reason - the reason that that is the mischief aimed at - that the lotteries have always required the third factor to which I have referred, namely that there should be some contribution from the participant, or from a substantial number of the participants, in return for obtaining a chance."

In R v Yen, Justice McNiven of the Saskatchewan King's Bench adopted these words:

"A lottery has been described as a scheme for distributing prizes by lot or chance....

 "The gratuitous distribution of tickets for the disposal of property would not be a lottery....

"[T]he definition of the word lottery ... includes a scheme for the distribution of prizes by lot or chance; especially a scheme by which one or more prizes are distributed by chance among persons who have paid or promised a consideration for a chance to win them, usually as determined by the numbers on tickets as drawn from a lottery wheel; allotment or distribution of anything by fate or chance; a procedure or scheme for distribution of prizes by lot; (and) the drawing of lots....

"Seldom do we find a word that so accurately connotes the meaning of a sentence as does the word lottery signify and connote the purport of any lot, card, ticket or other means or device for advancing, lending, giving, selling or otherwise disposing of any property, by lots, tickets or any mode of chance whatsoever."

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