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Find the right sweepstakes company to draft sweepstakes official rules that protect your sweepstakes and ensure that it’s compliant.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
- What are sweepstakes rules?
- How to write official rules?
- What are the risks of using sweepstakes official rules templates?
What Are Sweepstakes Official Rules?
Sweepstakes official rules are a necessary part of a legal sweepstakes because they include the terms of the sweepstakes promotion, including the start and end dates, eligibility, how to enter, winner drawing, sweepstakes prizes and more.
All sweepstakes must have official rules as required by sweepstakes laws.
The sweepstakes sponsor is also not permitted to change the sweepstakes official rules once the sweepstakes has started.
Sweepstakes official rules are required for all types of sweepstakes including:
- In-store giveaways
- Online sweepstakes (including social media sweepstakes)
- Instant-win sweepstakes
Why Hire a Sweepstakes Company to Draft Official Rules?
Hiring a professional sweepstakes company to draft sweepstakes official rules can provide you with the assurance that you need that your promotion is a legally-compliant sweepstakes.
Can I Use a Sweepstakes Official Rules Template?
No, don’t use sweepstakes official rules templates! Here’s why: using sweepstakes official rules templates that you find online is not recommended because they were not drafted for your exact promotion.
Hire a sweepstakes management company to draft your sweepstakes official rules.
What Official Rules & Legal Disclaimers Are Required for Sweepstakes?
The sweepstakes official rules should be custom drafted for your sweepstakes marketing promotion. A sweepstakes law expert can advise you on the terms that best fit your sweeps promotion.
However, in general official rules for sweepstakes contain the following 11 things:
1. No Purchase Necessary, 2. Start and End Dates, 3. Eligibility Requirements, 4. Limits on the Number of Entries, 5. Winning Odds 6. Description and ARV of Sweepstakes Prizes, 7. Winner Announcement, 8. Any Restrictions on Receiving the Sweepstakes Prize, 9. Void Jurisdictions, 10. Sweepstakes Sponsor Name and Address, 11. Additional Disclosures.
Here’s what you must include in your sweepstakes or contest rules in more detail:
1. No Purchase Necessary
No Purchase Necessary laws require that you include a disclaimer in your sweepstakes rules that make it clear that your sweepstaks is free to enter. All sweepstakes must offer a free method of entry, else it’s considered as an illegal lottery.
2. Start and End Dates
All sweepstakes run for a designated period of time. You need to specify the start and end date of a sweepstakes or contest in the official rules. After your sweepstakes goes live and is made available to the public, you can’t change the end date of the sweepstakes promotion.
3. Eligibility Requirements
Sweepstakes eligibility restrictions are partially up to you but may also be required in some jurisdictions. The cost of excluding some sweepstakes participants from your promotion due to age, location, industry affiliation, etc.
For certain regulated industries, sweepstakes participants must be:
- 21+ in order to enter an alcohol sweepstakes
- 18+ or 21+ in a state where cannabis is legal for recreational use (except for California where cannabis sweepstakes are not permitted) to enter a cannabis sweepstakes.
There are additional requirements including compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”) if you want to make your sweepstakes available to children.
4. Restrictions on Prize Receipt
For prizes over $600 in value, the industry standard is to have sweepstakes winners sign an an affidavit of eligibility and liability publicity release and have it notarized.
This will ensure that sweepstakes winners are made aware of via the sweepstakes official rules the potential tax liability resulting from accepting the sweepstakes prize.
5. Limits on the Number of Entries Per Individual or Household
You’ll need to decide if you’re running a multiple entry sweepstakes or one entry sweepstakes.
Also Read: 5 Reasons to Run an SMS Sweepstakes Campaign
6. Winning Odds
The sweepstakes rules should clearly state that making a purchase does not increase the odds of winning in order to comply with no purchase necessary laws.
7. Description and ARV of the Sweepstakes Prize
Calculate the ARV of the sweepstakes prize or sweepstakes prizes pack for the total ARV.
8. Winner Announcement
The sweepstakes official rules should specify the date(s) on which winner notification (via email or first-class mail) and sweepstakes winner announcement will take place.
A professional sweepstakes company will handle the winner announcements including publication of a winners list as required by state sweepstakes law in some states.
9. Void Jurisdictions
List the jurisdictions where residents are prohibited from entering the sweepstakes promotion. This includes all jurisdictions where your promotion is “prohibited by law.” Sweepstakes companies generally recommend excluding jurisdiction where the cost of compliance is higher than any potential ROI.
10. Sweepstakes Sponsor Name and Address
List the sweepstakes Sponsor Name(s) and Address(es).
11. Additional Disclosures
Depending on the type of sweepstakes promotion that you are running, the jurisdictions, and channels in which you plan to make the sweepstakes available to participants, some additional disclosures may be required or recommend.
A sweepstakes administrator will ensure that your sweepstakes rules cover everything that is required for a successful promotion. Good giveaway rules will minimize the risks of running your promotion as much as possible.
Do the Same Sweepstakes Legal Rules, Requirements, and Regulations Apply All to Sweepstakes?
All states have basically the same sweepstakes laws except for states that have additional sweepstakes laws. These states include: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island.
In New York, Florida, and Rhode Island you are required to register your sweepstakes promotion and submit your official rules.
Even if you end up drafting your official rules on your own, it’s advisable to have a sweepstakes company review your promotion before it goes live.