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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Feb 28, 2012

Winners Of Mass Effect 3 Space Edition Copy Came Close To Legal Punishment

Following the hype for BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 title, the developers decided to initiate a first in the gaming community by delivering some early copies of the game to eager players in a surprising way. The publisher, EA, attached copies of the game to weather balloons, along with GPS devices, and launched them into space not but two weeks ago. These copies found their way into the hands of some excited winners, but it seems that two of these winners are in a bit over their heads with an idea that has left them in hot water.

This past weekend Michael Davis and Miguel Droz made it out to the Arizona desert to where a copy of the game had landed. They took the game home and formulated an idea that they hatched on Sunday: raffling it off. Those who wanted a chance to win the game could pay $5 for a ticket to gain an entry number. A random number generator would then choose a winner, and the game would travel once more to the new owner. The duo planned on spending 30% of the profits by sending them to Child’s Play, and the rest would go to fund their own video game company they had been working to start.

So what’s the issue with all this? By making the decision to raffle the game off and profit from the sales, the two would be subject to some “potential criminal penalties.” This could lead to a hefty fine and even jail time. You see, since both Davis and Droz are residents of Nevada, they have a state law that says lotteries are only legal if and only if the proceeds go to charity – the full proceeds. Thus, if they take any of the money themselves they would be breaking the law.

What’s more is that since the duo is accepting entries from all states, this expands beyond a state issue and could potentially become one of federal status. “In short, they’re running an illegal lottery which subjects them to potential criminal penalties. I would imagine that Child’s Play, if they knew what was going on, would not want to be involved,” attorney Mark Methenitis told Kotaku in an interview. This lottery can be considered a felony, and that usually means offenders could pick up 1-10 years in a federal prison.

Since the issue arose, both Davis and Droz have submitted. They haven’t decided to call off the lottery, but instead they plan to send all 100% of the profits to Child’s Play. “We were actually unaware of the legal ramifications before we started this,” said Droz in an email. “At first we actually thought it would be a great idea for a great cause.” Though the basis of the idea was great, law is law. It’s unfortunate how this all turned out, save for the fact that proceeds will go to Child’s Play, which is a great organization for the community. It looks like these two skipped before the skillet hit the fire, as they say.

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