Customer Support Ruling

Lotteries - Raffles

UPDATED July 2014

PS-307 (601.9.3)

This CSR discusses the eligibility of lottery advertisements by authorized nonprofit organizations.

A question was raised as to whether raffle tickets to be mailed as part of a raffle conducted by a nonprofit organization would violate the proscription against mailing lottery tickets set forth in Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 601.9.3.

As the result of an inquiry from the Postal Service, the Department of Justice notified Congress that it will no longer enforce the criminal lottery statute (18 U.S.C. Section 1302) against gambling advertisement mailers, so long as the activity advertised is legal and the mailing does not provide any entry materials.  On December 5, 2000, the DMM was amended to revise the standards governing lotteries to incorporate this change.

While the DMM change revised the standards governing “advertising” for legal lotteries, it did not alter the standards that “unlawful matter includes any letter, newspaper, periodical, parcel, stamped card or postcard, circular, or other matter permitting or facilitating participation in a lottery; any lottery ticket or part thereof or substitute; and any form of payment for a lottery ticket or share.”  (Referred to in 18 U.S.C. Section 1302 as “entry materials.”)

Raffles that incorporate “prize,” “chance,’ and “consideration” are considered lotteries under the statute and postal standards.  “Tickets” for such raffles are considered unlawful mail matter and remain nonmailable.

When one or more of the three elements i.e., prize, chance, consideration, are eliminated from a raffle, the arrangement does not constitute a lottery for postal purposes. For instance, “consideration” is eliminated if persons may enter without payment of a fee. Thus, a nonprofit organization that designs a raffle where it is clear that a donation is not required (e.g. via a check box, “   Please enter my name in the drawing. I do not wish to make a donation at this time”) to participate in the raffle may use the mail to distribute the tickets for that raffle.

Sherry Suggs


Mailing Standards

Headquarters, US Postal Service

Washington DC  20260-3436