Attorney General's Opinion
Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal
May 21, 2004
Susan G. Townsley
Division of Special Revenue
555 Russell Road
Newington, CT 06111
Dear Ms. Townsley:
This is in response to your request for an opinion on whether your agency, consistent with the law, can approve a proposal by the Connecticut Lottery Corporation ("CLC") to launch a new lottery game with a "Treasure Island" theme featuring a novel second chance drawing feature. For the following reasons, and subject to your review and approval of the final game procedures and features, we believe the game is authorized by existing legislation.
The CLC is a quasi-public corporation authorized to introduce new lottery games, subject to regulatory oversight by the Division of Special Revenue ("DOSR"). Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-806(4). It currently operates several on-line lottery games where players pick numbers and receive a ticket from a lottery agent at a computer terminal, and then the winner is selected at a drawing. The CLC also runs lottery games in the form of instant tickets, where players buy a ticket from a lottery agent and rub off a cover which reveals objects which, if matched, win a prize. 00 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. No. 22 (7/26/00) (Letter to Executive Director Rotunda).
The proposed new game, as it has been described to us, is an instant ticket game sold with three versions of tickets: Gold Fever, Sunken Diamond, and Pirates Cove. Players can win cash prizes instantly, as in current instant ticket games, if a cash prize is revealed after rubbing off a cover. A losing ticket may reveal a "Sorry Try Again&quto; message or a Treasure Island drawing symbol. Players who collect a Treasure Island drawing symbol from each version can send the three tickets to the CLC, where a second chance winner will be randomly selected from tickets submitted at a drawing. This second chance at winning at a drawing is the unique feature in issue.
As you explain:
A key component to this proposal is that the prizes for the second chance drawings will be funded from the prize structure of the three instant games. In other words, the prizes are funded by the games. However, a unique feature of this drawing is the requirement that participants purchase tickets from three separate games in order to be eligible for the drawing.
Your Letter, April 6, 2004, p. 1.
State statutes authorize the CLC to introduce new lottery games, subject to the approval of your agency, DOSR. The CLC is not authorized to introduce new games which do not meet the statutory definition of lottery games. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-806(b)(4). Your agency is required to review and approve the procedures for this game prior to implementation. Reg. Sec. 12-568a-2(b). Approval of the procedures is contingent on the determination that this game is a "lottery" within the scope of permitted gaming authorized by the enabling statutes.
With regard to determining whether a game is authorized as a "lottery" under Connecticut law, we have often noted in the past that the specific elements of the term "lottery" are nowhere defined in the general statutes. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-801(3). However, we have consistently observed, in prior opinions dealing with the subject, and relying upon clearly established judicial precedent, that the term "lottery" must be accorded its common and ordinary meaning. See Ziperstein v. Tax Commissioner, 178 Conn. 493, 500, 423 A.2d 129 (1979); Jones v. Civil Service Commission, 175 Conn. 504, 509, 400 A.2d 731 (1978); Carlson v. Kozlowski, 172 Conn. 263, 266, 374 A.2d 207 (1977). We have based our prior opinions upon a firm understanding that the term lottery, as used in the Connecticut General Statutes, is employed strictly in its traditional sense:
03 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. (3/12/03) (Letter to Executive Director Townsley); 92 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. (1/24/92) at 2 (Letter to Executive Director Louziotis); 83 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. (9/21/83) (Letter to Executive Director Oppenheimer). See also 86 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. 24 (1986); 83 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. (12/2/83).
In other words, as contemplated by Connecticut statutes, a "lottery" is a game in which participants purchase "tickets" which give them an opportunity to win a prize based solely upon random chance, 83 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. (12/2/83) (citations omitted), and licensed lottery sales agent intervention is essential. 85 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. 126 (5/13/85) (Letter to Senator Philip Robertson); 83 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. (12/2/83) (Letter to Executive Director Oppenheimer).
Your description of the Treasure Island drawing game contains all of the same features common to current instant lottery games. The second chance drawing also resembles additional play features for ticket purchasers approved in the multi-state instant ticket game, which allows players to continue competing for prizes in a televised game show, and allows for at-home participants as well. See 00 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. No. 22 (7/26/00) (Letter to Executive Director Rotunda). Accordingly, this proposal involves a valid lottery game authorized by statutes.
The fact that the winning ticket in the proposed second chance drawing will be picked from the entries submitted raises an additional issue of whether this format constitutes a "raffle." Raffles are games of chance which, by law, may be operated only by certain, listed charitable and mostly non-profit type organizations under the Connecticut Bazaar and Raffle Act. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-1721. The CLC is not a qualified organization under the Act and, therefore, cannot offer games exclusively reserved by the Act to those organizations. See, 1997 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. (4/1/97) (Letter to Executive Director Wandrak) (Bingo type lottery game prohibited under Bingo Act).
In a raffle, the winner is determined by means of "drawing from a container having therein counterparts or stubs of all tickets sold …" Regs. Conn. State Agencies, Sec. 7-185-1b(d) (emphasis added). In the Treasure Island second chance drawing, we understand that the winner will be chosen by drawing the winner from a container, as in a raffle. The distinguishing feature, however, is that not all tickets sold are eligible to be in the drawing. Eligibility depends on collecting symbols from each of the three versions of the game, which may or may not exist on tickets purchased. Also, submissions are not made with stubs or counterparts. Instead, losing lottery tickets are submitted. These distinctions constitute a significant difference from the raffle games permitted under the Bazaar and Raffle Act, and, therefore, the CLC is not excluded from offering this second chance drawing game under that Act.2
For all of the foregoing reasons, we believe that the proposed Treasure Island theme instant ticket lottery game with second chance drawing feature is authorized by existing legislation and can be approved, subject to your review and approval of the final game procedures and features.
Very truly yours,
Robert F. Vacchelli
Assistant Attorney General
1 Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-172 provides, in pertinent part, as follows: No bazaar or raffle may be promoted, operated or conducted in any municipality after the adoption of the provisions of sections 7-170 to 7-186, inclusive, unless it is sponsored and conducted exclusively by (1) an officially recognized organization or association of veterans of any war in which the United States has been engaged, (2) a church or religious organization, (3) a civic or service club, (4) a fraternal or fraternal benefit society, (5) an educational or charitable organization, (6) an officially recognized volunteer fire company, (7) a political party or town committee thereof or (8) a municipality acting through a committee designated to conduct a celebration of the municipality's founding on its hundredth anniversary or any multiple thereof.
2The fact that three tickets must be collected for participation in the second chance drawing does not alter our conclusion. As explained above, this game fits within the common law definition of a lottery, and we find no statute or regulation which expressly excludes it, or is inconsistent with it. Accordingly, this feature is not disqualifying.