'Friendly' Bets Between Mayors, Governors, etc.

[Dear Cecil:]

From time to time, two mayor or two governors may set up a so-called “friendly” bet. The governor of Georgia, for example, may promise the Mayor of New York a crate of Georgia peaches if his team wins. If the mayor of New York wins, he’ll send a big box of New York cheese cake, let’s say.

One thing about this has always bothered, or at least perplexed me. Is this really legal? And how much trouble (theoretically) could they get in legally? Betting is illegal in almost every state. And betting across state lines. That’s a federal offense, isn’t it?


[Jim B.]

The bracketed part is just for Cecil Adams, if he chooses to answer. Now, I submit my question to the rest of you on the boards:).

It depends on the state whether betting itself is illegal. For example, in NY (and probably many other states) it’s not actually illegal to make a bet , or to run a football pool or friendly poker game. What *is *illegal is for someone to make money other than as a player. If I play poker with a few friends for money, there’s nothing illegal. If I take a percentage of each pot or charge a fee to get into the game , it’s illegal.