Mass. General Laws c.271 § 5B

Unlawful possession of electronic machine or device for conducting or promoting sweepstakes through entertaining display; lawful exceptions; penalty

Table of Contents


Section 5B

(a) As used in this section the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:—

''Electronic machine or device'', a mechanically, electrically or electronically operated machine or device that is: (i) owned, leased or otherwise possessed by a sweepstakes sponsor or promoter, or any sponsors, promoters, partners, affiliates, subsidiaries or contractors thereof; (ii) intended to be used by a sweepstakes entrant; (iii) uses energy; and (iv) capable of displaying information on a screen or other mechanism; provided, that an electronic machine or device may, without limitation: (1) be server-based; (2) use a simulated game terminal as a representation of the prizes associated with the results of the sweepstakes entries; (3) utilize software such that the simulated game influences or determines the winning or value of the prize; (4) select prizes from a predetermined finite pool of entries; (5) utilize a mechanism that reveals the content of a predetermined sweepstakes entry; (6) predetermine the prize results and stores those results for delivery at the time the sweepstakes entry results are revealed; (7) utilize software to create a game result; (8) require deposit of any money, coin or token, or the use of any credit card, debit card, prepaid card or any other method of payment to activate the electronic machine or device; (9) require direct payment into the electronic machine or device, or remote activation of the electronic machine or device; (10) require purchase of a related product having legitimate value; (11) reveal the prize incrementally, even though it may not influence if a prize is awarded or the value of any prize awarded; (12) determine and associate the prize with an entry or entries at the time the sweepstakes is entered; (13) be a slot machine or other form of electrical, mechanical, or computer game; and provided further, that ''electronic machine or device'' shall also include gambling devices as defined in section 5A.

''Enter'' or ''entry'', the act or process by which a person becomes eligible to receive any prize offered in a sweepstakes.

''Entertaining display'', any visual information, capable of being seen by a sweepstakes entrant, that takes the form of actual game play or simulated game play.

''Prize'', any gift, award, gratuity, good, service, credit or anything else of value, which may be transferred to a person, whether possession of the prize is actually transferred, or placed on an account or other record as evidence of the intent to transfer the prize.

''Sweepstakes'', any game, advertising scheme or plan, or other promotion, which, with or without payment of any consideration, a person may enter to win or become eligible to receive any prize, the determination of which is based upon chance.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly possess with the intent to operate, or place into operation, an electronic machine or device to: (1) conduct a sweepstakes through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the reveal of a prize; or (2) promote a sweepstakes that is conducted through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the reveal of a prize.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to make illegal any activity which is lawfully conducted: (1) by the state lottery commission, under sections 24, 24A, 27, 27A, 37, 38, and 39A of chapter 10; (2) as pari-mutuel wagering on horse races, whether live or simulcast, under chapters 128A and 128C; (3) as the game of bingo conducted under chapters 10 and 271; (4) as charitable gaming, conducted under chapter 271; (5) under chapters 23K and 23N; or (6) by any retailer whose primary business is the sale of groceries, whereby the sweepstakes is directly related to the sale of groceries and the potential prize provided through the sweepstakes may not be redeemed for cash and may only be used as a discount to reduce the price of items purchased from the retailer.

(d) Any person who violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $250,000 per electronic machine or device placed into operation or by imprisonment in state prison for not more than 15 years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

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Last updated: August 10, 2022

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