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1 vs. 100 prizes unavailable in certain states and Quebec


There's going to be some drama when folks really start to catch on, so let's get it out of the way now: residents of Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Vermont, and the great province of Quebec, are not eligible for Xbox Live Primetime's 1 vs.100 prizes. This isn't spite on Microsoft's part, because, according to the company there are laws.

The statement from Microsoft's lawyers is that "due to gaming laws, which vary from state to state, '1 vs 100 skill-based prizes' cannot be offered in every state." The response neglects to provide any concrete reasoning why those four states and Quebec were unique, but does mention that players can participate through a sweepstakes.

We contacted Joystiq's Law of the Game columnist, Mark Methenitis, to see if he could give us a clearer explanation regarding the exclusions. The attorney -- who just happens to have gambling law as one of his practice areas -- explained, "When you see restrictions like these, it's either because Microsoft's legal department or the contest administrator isn't comfortable with some aspect of the state law. Taking Iowa as an example, their laws are such that many scholars believe participation in a game for any property of value would be illegal gambling. There's also a provision that if, for a fee, anything of value is delivered, and given that this is limited to Xbox Live Gold members, it may be the wording of the statute that leads them to believe the paid membership plus the game may be problematic."

Methenitis expresses that it's difficult to conclude why Microsoft chose those particular locales, but that it's "the direct result of the patchwork legislation among the states." If this seems unfair, then might we suggest contacting your congressman or, um, member of parliament? Something spooked Microsoft's lawyers into excluding those particular states. Find the full statements from Microsoft and Methenitis after the break.

[Thanks, Justin F]


Microsoft:
"Due to gaming laws, which vary from state to state, "1 vs 100 skill-based prizes" cannot be offered in every state. Residents of the excluded states can earn Sweepstakes entries by participating in "1 vs 100 on Xbox LIVE," or offline via mail by sending in 3x5 postcards to the Sweepstakes Administrator. Always check the Official Rules for full details regarding entry methods and limits."

Mark Methenitis:
"When it comes to gambling laws in the United States, 'mess' is almost too kind a term. Gambling is left to the jurisdiction of the states rather than the federal government in all respects, from online gambling to land-based casinos to sweepstakes. While there are some proposals to change the laws with regard to internet gambling, those are all still yet to pass Congress. So, when you see restrictions like these, it's either because Microsoft's legal department or the contest administrator isn't comfortable with some aspect of the state law. Taking Iowa as an example, their laws are such that many scholars believe participation in a game for any property of value would be illegal gambling. There's also a provision that if, for a fee, anything of value is delivered, and given that this is limited to Xbox Live Gold members, it may be the wording of the statute that leads them to believe the paid membership plus the game may be problematic. It's difficult to say what exact provisions are giving the legal team heartburn in these jurisdictions, but the picking and choosing is certainly the direct result of the patchwork legislation among the states.

Tags: 1-vs-100, laws, mark-methenitis, microsoft, rules

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