Summary of the Ethics In Public Service Act – Receipt of Door Prizes

(Summary of Executive Ethics Board – Advisory Opinion 98-10 effective July 30, 1999 and amended July 13, 2007.)


Situation #1

An university employee pays for admission to a computer technology exhibit and receives a door prize ticket as part of the fee for admission to the event. During the exhibit a drawing is conducted and the holder of the winning ticket receives computer equipment or software.

  • First issue - does the door prize meet the definition of a gift which is "anything of economic value for which no consideration is given."
    • There is economic value, and
    • The Board has determined that paying the admission fee to an exhibit (or conference) where the fee provides each attendee with an equal, and presumably random, opportunity to win a door prize, is consideration.  Therefore the door prize would not be a gift. 
  • Does it matter who paid the consideration (i.e. conference or admissions fee)? YES.
    • If the university pays, then the university is entitled to decide what happens to the door prize.  The university can:
      1. Use it in its operations;
      2. Decide it has no value to the university and dispose of the prize in accordance with the university’s surplus process; or
      3. Decide it has no value to the university but believe it would be inappropriate for the employee to have it. (For example, the employee is a Section 4 employee and the door prize is provided by a vendor that the employee might buy from.) In this case, the university should return the prize to the donor or donate it to charity within 30 days.
    • If the employee pays and also attends the event on their own time, then the employee can keep the door prize as long as it would not create any conflict with the proper discharge of the employee’s official duties.  (For example, the employee pays admissions to a home show exhibit and attends the event on a non-regular work day.  The price of admissions provides him with a door prize entry ticket and the employee wins a trip.  The employee can accept and keep the trip.)

Situation #2

A university employee enters a door prize or other drawing at an official business event (e.g. conference) where the opportunity to win a prize is not included in the event admission (e.g. a vendor offers a door prize in connection with an official event where an employee fills out a form or uses a business card to enter.)

  • The concern is that entering this type of drawing may create the appearance that the primary purpose for entering is for personal benefit rather than for conducting state business.  Therefore, university employees should not enter these types of drawings when attendance is related to the performance of official duties and when the university has paid consideration or allowed the use of state time for attendance.

Situation #3

University employees may enter door prize drawings at events attended in their personal capacities provided the university has not paid consideration for attendance; the employee attends the event on his or her own time; and, state business cards are not used to enter drawings.

Page Updated 06.10.2012