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Emily D. Swoboda

Obama Campaign Averts Minor Minnesota Gambling Crisis

10 July 2008

The national campaign for Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, sidestepped a violation of Minnesota's gambling laws this week by altering a fundraising opportunity on its Web site.

The contest originally offered 10 supporters who donated $5 or more, and their guests, the chance to meet Mr. Obama at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 28 in Denver.

However, after reportedly receiving an anonymous tip on Monday about the contest, the Minnesota Gambling Board determined that the contest could be an illegal lottery in the state and turned the matter over to the Department of Public Safety, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

The Department of Public Safety gave Mr. Obama's campaign two options on Tuesday: invalidate the contest in Minnesota or make the donation optional.

Covering all bases, the campaign chose the latter.

So, Obama supporters are still eligible to enter the contest, but they are not required to make a donation to qualify for the prize.

Charles Humphrey, a gaming attorney and creator of, told IGamingNews that the only way for the campaign to get out of the pickle it was in was to offer an alternative means -- or free entry to the contest -- which it did.

He added that this caveat applies in all states where similar contests are permitted.

However, there are a few states, like Vermont, where this kind of sweepstakes is prohibited, he said.

The alteration, meanwhile, has satisfied the state authorities.

"We never set out to criminalize these people," Mr. Forsman told The Star Tribune. "We always hoped it could be resolved by voluntary compliance."

He added that the state would not pursue any further action against the campaign.

Incidentally, Minneapolis is hosting the Republican National Convention in September.

Obama Campaign Averts Minor Minnesota Gambling Crisis is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda