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Applicability of Anti-Lottery Laws to Simultaneous Oil and Gas Leasing Procedures

Date of Issuance:

The United States and its officers are not generally exempt from the anti-lottery laws, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1302 and 1304.

Although the question is not free from doubt, the legislative history and judicial construction of the anti-lottery statutes lead to the conclusion that those statutes are aimed at lotteries designed to enrich their promoters at the expense of the gambling public, and therefore do not extend to “lotteries” structured not to enrich federal coffers but for the sole purpose of distributing public leases fairly and efficiently.

Long-standing congressional acquiescence in the Interior Department’s Simultaneous Oil and Gas Leasing Procedures is a factor that must be considered in determining whether those procedures constitute an illegal lottery under §§ 1302 and 1304.

Updated July 9, 2014