Legal Documents You Need to Run a Sweepstakes

sweepsify legal documents you need to run a sweepstakes
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Sweepstakes and contests require certain legal documents for compliance.

Unfortunately, some marketers who run sweepstakes for the first time don’t realize that unless a sweepstakes or contest is properly structured, they may face legal problems.

The official rules must comply with all jurisdictions in which the sweepstakes or contest is open to residents.

Don’t wait to find out that your sweepstakes or contest is not in compliance after receiving a notice from a regulator. Otherwise your promotion could be opening the company up to serious liability.

Legal Documents Required to Run a Sweepstakes

Keep this checklist handy as you create your sweepstakes. Tap the button below to download this article as a PDF. Please allow some time for the file to generate.

sweepsify legal documents you need to run a sweepstakes

Before you launch your sweepstakes or contest, make sure that you have a sweepstakes or contest administrator review your official rules.

Read on to learn about the other legal documents that are required for a sweepstakes or contest.


  • What legal documents are required for sweepstake law compliance?
  • Additional legal considerations for contests
  • What legal documents are needed for user generated content (UGC) in social media contests?

Here are the key legal documents for sweepstakes. These documents are required in order to avoid legal penalties. Sweepstakes law requires you to have the following:

  • Official Rules. The official rules are the contract between the sweepstakes sponsor and the sweepstakes participant. Here is where you define all of the material details of your promotion including start/end dates, eligibility, liability releases required for price acceptance, and more.
  • Abbreviated Rules. All advertising materials related your sweepstakes, including social media posts, and in-store advertisements must have abbreviated rules. The exact language of the abbreviated rules should reflect the full official rules. A sweepstakes company can help you prepare multiple versions that are acceptable to the offline or online channel where you promote your sweepstakes.
  • Liability Releases. These are the documents that sweepstakes and contest participants must sign in order for you to make use of their user-generated content (UGC) in your brand’s future marketing materials. It also confirms that the sweepstakes winners fully understand that you plan to use their names and likenesses for publicity on winner announcement.
  • Co-sponsor Contracts. If you plan to work with multiple sweepstakes partners, you need to draft partnership contracts to confirm the agreements between your company and any sweepstakes co-sponsors. These contracts should cover all aspects of each party’s responsibilities. They also should cover indemnifications, as well as, potential consequences for breach of the agreement between the sweepstakes sponsor and the co-sponsor.
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All sweepstakes and contests must follow federal laws. However, given that a contest is a game of skill rather than a game of chance like a sweepstakes, you’ll also need to make sure that you obtain the necessary legal documents for a content in addition to the documents mentioned above.

Here are legal documents that are specific to a contest:

Contest Judging Company Contract

Brands running large scale contests rely on the expertise of contest judging companies. This ensures that their contests comply with contest laws and are fairly judged.

As a result, you may also need to have a contract drawn up with a contest judging company in advance of the launch of your contest.

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If your contest involves multiple social media platforms, websites, and user-generated content (UGC) you may want to consider drawing up a separate legal release to explain exactly how users’ content will be used and that you’ve obtained their expressed consent.

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Next Steps: Contest or Sweepstakes Company for Official Rules

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the legal documents that can apply to a sweepstakes or contest in every jurisdiction. For example, there may also be local laws that you need to comply with.

» MORE:   10 Legal Mistakes to Avoid With User-Generated Content and Social Media Contests

Although sweepstakes laws are nearly the same across all 50 states, many states have additional requirements for sweepstakes and contests.

Use this article as a starting point and then reach out to a sweepstakes administration, raffle management or contest administration company for further assistance.

Looking for a sweepstakes company to help you with your next promotion? Sweepsify helps you find top sweepstakes and contest companies in seconds. Create your free Premium account now to get started.

Sweepsify provides access to sweepstakes company and contest administration services offered by a network of provider sweepstakes management firms. Neither Sweepsify nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation, or advice. The information available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations. The blog post is not a substitute for competent legal counsel from a licensed sweepstakes lawyer in the state or province where your legal issues exist and the reader is strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel for your specific legal matter. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be a third-party paid contributor. All information by authors is accepted in good faith, however, Sweepsify makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information.