|Lottery Universe, the web site owned by the US-based Avatar Group, offers US residents the opportunity to bet on lotteries outside their home state – without leaving their home. There’s just the small matter of whether or not this is legal: Reselling lottery tickets contravenes US Federal law. |
However, Avatar says Lottery Universe its status as a 'service agent' means it is legal.
Lottery Universe is just a service that purchases tickets on behalf of the customer through regular channels, without actually selling lottery tickets, according to John Feldman, an attorney representing Avatar.
'It's like calling your brother in-law in Florida and asking him to buy a lottery ticket for you,' Feldman says.
That argument cuts no ice with many state attorneys, whose position is that charging or taking a fee to cross state lines to buy a lottery ticket for another person is illegal. Only authorized retailers can sell lottery tickets, they say. So in theory, if you buy pickup a lottery ticket for a friend, legally you cannot ask them to pay for it. Avatar says the ticket isn't resold, and never leaves the state.
Avatar’s opinion is not shared by The Texas State Lottery Commission. The commission submitted a report to the Harris County District Attorney's office last year claiming Avatar is in violation of the Texas State Lottery Act by acting as an intermediary, as it sells state lottery tickets above their face value. That would constitute a third-degree felony. Feldman, however, call’s Avatar’s markup a “handling fee”. While the Harris County district attorney's office investigates whether Avatar is breaking Texas law, Avatar will continue in business. The company says it has 66,000 visitors to the site every month.
Other examples of out of state lottery services online are Interlotto or www.TheBigBigLotto.com which offer lottery tickets for the Florida, New York, and California draws.