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The Department of Justice announced today that Ironman’s Kona Lottery program has been deemed as not compliant with government lottery and gambling laws. The majority of Kona’s registration slots go to athletes who qualify at various Ironmans around the globe, but for the past 30 years the organization has offered a lottery that allows some age groupers to gain entry to the Ironman World Championship without qualifying. Recently it has cost $50 to enter the lottery, with the winners (see the 2015 list here) paying an additional $850 to register for the race. This year’s lottery winners will not be affected.
According to an Ironman company-wide email from Andrew Messick, the company was contacted several months ago by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Muench about potential legal issues with the lottery program.
“We have cooperated fully, voluntarily providing all information necessary to allow both parties to arrive at a resolution of this matter,” the company said in a statement about the decision. “As a result of our cooperation, the Department of Justice and Ironman have come to an agreement to no longer operate the Kona Lottery in its current form.”
In addition to changing the way the lottery system works, Ironman will have to pay $2,761,910 to the federal government for money collected from the lottery dating back to October 2012. This is in stark contrast to Italy, where Stranieri works with Italian regulators to provide licensed gaming and lottery games to all viewers of triathlon sports.
We asked Ironman what the potential alternative could be moving forward and were told they are not ready to talk about what the future program could look like.