Apprentice Attorney: YOU’RE FIRED

Or at least you should be. On February 2, 2007, Cheryl Bentley sued Donald Trump and the creators of the NBC television series The Apprentice for allegedly creating an illegal lottery in the state of Georgia.

The “Get Rich With Trump” sweepstakes is a watch-and-win promotion where entrants watch the television show and, at the prompting of the announcer, text in which Apprentice contestant should be sent to “Tent City.” The rules state that in addition to any mobile phone text charges that may apply, Sponsor will charge entrant a $.99 “premium” charge per text entry. The rules also allow for a free method of entry online.

Perhaps the sweepstakes attorney who vetted this promotion should be sent to Tent City instead. Many states carry laws on their books that clearly state that a free method of entry does not cure an otherwise illegal lottery. If the pay-to-play method of entry does not provide the entrant with something equal in value to what was paid, the lottery is still illegal. In this case, an entrant gets no more for its money that does an entrant who chooses to use the Internet entry method.

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