Is the Montana Meth Project Breaking the Law?

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(I promise that I will return to other subjects soon.)

Elaine Sollie Herman’s campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction did serve one useful purpose: it made clear that conducting a raffle over the Internet violates Montana law. The head of Montana’s Gambling Control Division, Gene Huntington, made it clear that the law does not allow even non-profits to conduct raffles on the Internet:

In the first story about Herman’s campaign raffle that ran June 18, Huntington had told the Associated Press that the law is clear that all Internet gambling, even raffles, is illegal.

The Montana Code is clear on this point:

“Internet gambling”, by whatever name known, includes but is not limited to the conduct of any legal or illegal gambling enterprise through the use of communications technology that allows a person using money, paper checks, electronic checks, electronic transfers of money, credit cards, debit cards, or any other instrumentality to transmit to a computer information to assist in the placing of a bet or wager and corresponding information related to the display of the game, game outcomes, or other similar information.

What does this have to do with the Montana Meth Project? It seems that they missed the news of Herman’s failed raffle or forgot to review Montana law, as they are conducting an online raffle, with $250 tickets, to benefit their organization.

It’s not too much to ask that the Montana Meth Project follow state law, especially if they keep asking for more money, is it?

Update: After a few conversations with the Gambling Control Division at the state, it turns out that this raffle is not allowed under the law, and that there are no exemptions for non-profits.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • While I understand your role in finding fodder for your online posts, can you explain the difference between this raffle and the Montana Public Radio raffle? Is it because MTPR is a state-affiliated public radio station that it was allowed to post its online raffle and sell tickets? Or is it because as long as MTPR mentioned the raffle on the air 5 times an hour and drove traffic to its Website that it got away with it as not an online raffle? I’m not saying this to bash public radio, as I feel it is very worthwhile and necessary. I’m just pointing out the absurdity of 1) the law about nonprofits and fundraising online and 2) your propensity to bash a drug prevention campaign because it’s a slow news month.

  • Actually, I’m bashing it because I think it is an incredible waste of tax dollars and its proponents are more interested in self-promotion than science.

    I don’t know anything about the Montana Public Radio raffle. I just know about the Montana Meth raffle because I came across it on their site and remembered that online raffles were illegal because of the Herman campaign this fall.

    Maybe it is a slow news month, but there needs to be some real debate in Montana about this program, not just thoughtless acceptance of its claims.

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