Official Rules of Sweepstakes in the USA

Define Sweepstakes

A sweepstake is promotional. Here someone is awarded a prize based on chance instead of skill. If the reward was awarded based on a skill, then the promotion would be called a contest

What is the difference between sweepstakes and a lottery?

Lotteries are not legal under federal and state law, except for lotteries that are run by the state and raffles that are authorized. Usually, a lottery is also a promotion that meets three criteria which are

  1. Chance
  2. Prize
  3. Consideration.

Do you need to buy anything to enter a sweepstake?

As per the rules of sweepstakes, you do not need to make a purchase to enter the promotion. A real sweepstake is different than a lottery which avoids the consideration element. Hence usually, a purchase of a product is not necessary to enter the sweepstake.

Define Consideration

It is a legal word that is defined as an undertaking as a response to a promise. Considerations are of two different kinds when it comes to sweepstakes promotions, there are non-monetary considerations and monetary considerations. Monetary means money is involved like a direct fee as an entry fee or buying a service or a product. Non- Monetary consideration is when the entrant shares a lot of effort or time.

What are the official sweepstake rules?

Every sweepstake is required to have official rules that is a contract between the entrant and the sponsor. Once the sweepstakes start, the rules of sweepstakes cannot change.

The official sweepstakes rules must have the following details-

  1. The start date and the end date.
  2. No purchase must be necessary
  3. The method to participate including the ‘no purchase’ system of entry.
  4. The requirements to be eligible such as residency, age, and any specific exclusions.
  5. The chances of winning
  6. Limitations on the number of entries by a household or individual.
  7. The process of selecting and notifying winners.
  8. The value and description of the rewards
  9. Void jurisdictions
  10. Any restrictions on accepting the rewards
  11. The address and name of the sponsor.

Any additional disclosure depends on the kind of channel, jurisdiction, and promotion that is being offered in the sweepstakes.

What must you disclose?

Sweepstake laws depend on various factors such as the marketing channel that is being used, and the jurisdiction where the promotion is being offered. As an example, sweepstakes that are offered via mail must have more conspicuous kinds of disclosures in place of rules, text, and entry forms. They must verify that no purchase is required. A purchase will not enhance the odds of winning. Sweepstakes that are offered via telemarketing have other necessary oral disclosures based on state and federal laws. Moreover, based on state laws, further disclosures could be required and they may depend on the number of rewards that are being offered.

Printing error or technical difficulties

If a sweepstake is properly structured then it will have a solution for all possible contingencies.

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