Is it Ethical to Raffle off Prizes in Exchange for Referrals?

open mouthIn the July 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) a reader asks:

I found out that one of my colleagues is raffling off a jet ski. The rules of the raffle state that each person who refers a patient to the dentist’s practice will have his or her name entered into the raffle; the more people one refers, the more entries one gets. Is this a violation of the ADA Code?

You may be surprised by the answer (ADA Members have access to the complete online archive of JADA including the regular ethical moment column.)

Facing a thorny ethical issue? The ADA ethics hotline is an easy, confidential way for ADA members to get some advice on next steps when navigating an ethical dilemma.

The hotline doesn’t provide legal guidance. Instead it provides a fresh perspective through a consultation with a member of the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs (CEBJA.)

To access this ADA member benefit, call the toll-free number on your ADA member card and request the ethics hotline. After confirming your membership, you’ll be transferred to a voicemail system and asked to provide some information about your issue.

You’ll receive a personal telephone call from a member of CEBJA. This dentist will then discuss the application of the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct to your situation. The goal is for you to receive a response within two or three days. However, if you request a rapid response, volunteers and staff will work to accommodate your request.

And you are encouraged to familiarize yourself ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct.


  • I am sure we all have our own 2 cents about this, but let me share something about raffles. I have a dentist friend who has been doing this for awhile and the money goes to a local charity. That charity has been blessed by those donations.

  • Hey whatever works for that dentist to drum up business. I see a few dentist in my area raffling off items or taking guesses about “How many jelly beans do you think our in this jar?” So the patient can win a free dinner or a free service at the dental office. I know their is a fine line somewhere, but as long nobody is getting hurt by a raffle in the dentist office.

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