According to Reuters, two runners have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the New York Road Runners, alleging that the $11 nonrefundable fee to enter the New York City Marathon’s non-guaranteed lottery is a violation of the New York state constitution.
The suit, filed by Utah residents Charles Konopa and Matthew Clark, seeks $10.56 million in damages, or twice the amount collected from 2010-15 from the drawing. The plantiffs claim that the state constitution was violated because only the state itself can run lotteries based on chance.
The not-for-profit New York Road Runners noticeably do not use the term “lottery” when promoting the non-guaranteed avenue to entry, instead calling it a “drawing.” All applicants pay a non-refundable $11 fee; if their name is drawn they pay the full entry fee ($216 for NYRR members, $255 for U.S. residents and $347 for international residents) to secure a bib. Last year, 80,080 runners entered, and only 18 percent of them secured a bib for the 2015 marathon.
NYRR spokesman Chris Weiller told Reuters that the $11 fee is charged to everyone who registers, even those who are guaranteed entry.
“Our entry process for the marathon is compliant with the law,” he told Reuters.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on the same day that the 2016 application process opened up for the marathon.
The news comes less than a year after World Triathlon Corporation’s lottery for entry into the Ironman World Championship in Kona was ruled illegal. Ironman, a for-profit company that puts on long-distance triathlons, was forced to pay $2.7 million to the federal government for money collected in the lottery dating back to 2012. Before the ruling, triathletes entering the Kona lottery had to pay a non-refundable $50 fee, then those selected paid an additional $850 to register for the race. The Kona drawing was especially tough—only 100 were selected out of more than 7,000 entries.