Fri. Jun 18th, 2021

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made national headlines when he announced that five Ohioans could win $1 million just for getting one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. 

The governor called it a creative way to increase the state’s vaccination rate – currently around 41% of the state’s population. A number of Ohio Republicans and Democrats called it a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Others, asked a more basic question: Is this “Vax-A-Million” giveaway legal?

‘Vax-A-Million’ is not a lottery

Ohio’s constitution has clear rules about who can and cannot run a statewide lottery. Basically, the only entity with permission is the Ohio Lottery Commission, and its proceeds go to fund public education. 

This isn’t a lottery, DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney said. It’s not a raffle or a sweepstakes as defined in state law. It’s a drawing. The commission is just helping to pick the winners. 

No tickets are being sold. No money is being raised. 

Think of it like a charitable sweepstakes – though Ohio’s rules for drawings are slightly different. DeWine said the Ohio Department of Health will administer the giveaway, and the agency will pay for it with federal relief dollars it already has for vaccine promotion.