COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A gambling analyst for Focus on the Family, which works on social issues such as abortion and gambling, says he believes the campaign for presidential candidate Barack Obama violated both state and federal law with his lottery-like fundraiser today.
“The three elements of gambling are there,” Chad Hills, the analyst for gambling research and policy, told WND. “I think not only does it cross the line on a state level, but on a federal level it also crosses the line.”
He confirmed that Internet gambling is banned in all 50 states, as are commercial gambling operations unless, like a state lottery, they are specifically authorized.
Obama’s fundraiser, distributed via Internet inside Colorado, said, “If you make a donation of $5 or more between now and midnight on July 31st, you could be one of 10 supporters chosen to fly to Denver and spend two days and nights at the convention, meet Barack backstage, and watch his acceptance speech in person. Each of the ten supporters who are selected will be able to bring one guest to join them.”
A spokesman with the office of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the office would not comment on a situation before a formal complaint was filed, and no complaint had been received by the office immediately after the e-mail was distributed.
But he provided to WND a statement that said, “For ‘gambling’ to occur, three elements must be present: consideration, chance, and reward. These elements are sometimes expressed as ‘payment, luck, and prize.’ The first level of inquiry, then, is whether all three of these components are present.”
By and large, gambling is banned in Colorado except for the state lottery; wagering on horse and dog racing events; bingo, raffles and charitable games licensed and regulated by the Secretary of State’s office, limited stakes gaming in casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek, as well as on tribal reservation land; and “social gambling.”
Officials with the Obama campaign declined to respond to a WND question about the promotion, but Wil Alston, a spokesman for the host governor for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver next month, Bill Ritter, told WND, “I’m going to have to take this to our attorneys.”
Officials with the Colorado Democratic Party referred questions to the Obama camp, and Colorado Republicans declined to respond to a request for a comment.
Hills, whose job is to analyze gambling and gambling issues and advise for Focus on the Family, said, “I think they’ve stepped on the darker side of the gray line, if you want to call it a gray line.”
He specifically expressed his views on the issue of gambling, and did not express an opinion on any particular political candidate.
“All 50 states explicitly forbid commercial gambling activities, unless expressly authorized by the state. Is he licensed by the state? No,” he said. “In fact, in 37 states this is a misdemeanor.”
“I think he’s walking a very thin rope and probably is in violation of state and federal laws by doing that,” he said.
It would be different if Obama fans were given the option of entering their name for the prize of a trip to Denver without contributing money, he said.
But Obama’s e-mail didn’t include any such option.
At the Democratic National Convention next month, we’re going to kick off the general election with an event that opens up the political process the same way we’ve opened it up throughout this campaign.
Barack has made it clear that this is your convention, not his.
On Thursday, August 28th, he’s scheduled to formally accept the Democratic nomination in a speech at the convention hall in front of the assembled delegates.
Instead, Barack will leave the convention hall and join more than 75,000 people for a huge, free, open-air event where he will deliver his acceptance speech to the American people.
It’s going to be an amazing event, and Barack would like you to join him. Free tickets will become available as the date approaches, but we’ve reserved a special place for a few of the people who brought us this far and who continue to drive this campaign.
If you make a donation of $5 or more between now and midnight on July 31st, you could be one of 10 supporters chosen to fly to Denver and spend two days and nights at the convention, meet Barack backstage, and watch his acceptance speech in person. Each of the ten supporters who are selected will be able to bring one guest to join them.
Make a donation now and you could have a front row seat to history:
We’ll follow up with more details on this and other convention activities as we get closer, but please take a moment and pass this note to someone you know who might like to be there.
It will be an event you’ll never forget.
It was signed David Plouffe, campaign manager, Obama for America, and it included an Internet link to a donate.BarackObama.com website to pay the money and enter the competition for the trips.
Colorado’s attorney general explained not only is it illegal to place wagers over the Internet in Colorado, but “If all three elements are present, the activity is considered ‘gambling’ and can only be conducted in the context of ‘social gambling.'”
LifeNews.com earlier reported when the chief of Focus on the Family, James Dobson, criticized Obama over his pro-abortion position, calling Obama’s a “fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.”
WND reported later when an Obama campaign worker was linked to a website bashing Dobson.