A recent ethics investigation conducted by the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission into the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (“PALCB”) has spurred changes in how the PALCB conducts limited-release lotteries.
Periodically, the PALCB conducts limited-release lotteries intending to fairly and equitably distribute rare and highly sought after spirits such as the Pappy Van Winkle Collection and the Buffalo Trace Collection. These lotteries are extremely popular; over a five-day entry period, the PALCB received more than 188,000 entries for the 2021 Van Winkle release and four other bourbons.
However, not everyone who won the limited-release lottery ended up paying for their prize. After that happened, rather than conducting a second lottery, several PALCB officials instead bought the rare spirits with their own money. This practice was not shared with the public or unsuccessful lottery entrants.
Eventually, the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission received word of the practice and investigated. The Commission found the PALCB officials had violated no laws, but required that each official “not purchase any items offered by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board outside of the process by which a Commonwealth resident may purchase such items.”
The PALCB acknowledged the investigation caused the agency to ensure all limited-release lottery products will be distributed strictly through drawings.
This ethics report levels the playing field for lottery entrants seeking rare and highly sought-after spirits, potentially giving entrants a second chance at unclaimed prizes.