If you don’t know what to look out for, the most common sweepstakes mistakes can seriously derail your promotion and land you in hot water with regulators. Don’t let legal concerns ruin your text to win promotion!
To help you avoid a major slip up, here are 5 sweepstakes mistakes you might be making and how to avoid them.
1. Making a Purchase Necessary
Every sweepstakes must allow entries where no purchase is necessary, otherwise it’s considered an illegal lottery. While you can allow entries with purchase, you must have an entry method where purchase isn’t required. This is why you often see an option for mail-in or email entries.
2. Not Reviewing Official Rules
Keep in mind that your Official Rules are akin to a contract with your customers. Official Rules should be carefully drafted for every sweepstakes you run to ensure you’re in compliance with all applicable laws.
So consider an official rules template or previous version as a starting point. Build on the template to make sure the final rules address all of the unique features of your promotion. While our rules wizard does help with rules setup, we always recommend having rules reviewed by an attorney.
3. Not Including Abbreviated Rules in Ads
When advertising your sweepstakes in-store or anywhere else, include abbreviated rules and disclaimers required for your sweepstakes. They should always be included in all ads to ensure compliance. If space is a concern, use short links that will redirect visitors to a web page where they can view the official rules and disclaimers in their entirety.
4. Hiding the Fine Print
You may think hiding the fine print will encourage more entrants to your sweepstakes, but this is something you should never do. In fact, hiding the rules can open you up to legal liability if your customers have to jump through hoops to locate them. The same is true for mobile disclaimers and terms. Your official rules can only protect you if your entrants consent to them when they opt-in to your sweepstakes.
So make sure that you make them as easily accessible as possible by include a link to them in ads and sign up forms. For mobile, you must also include: “Message and data rates may apply.” This notifies consumers that their mobile provider may charge fees, depending on their mobile plan.
5. Ignoring State Regulations for Sweepstakes
In certain states, you must register and bond your sweepstakes with the state at least 30 days before it is set to begin. For example, the state of New York requires registration and bonding if the sweepstakes prize is valued at $5,000 or more. Don’t ignore state and local regulations for your sweepstakes or you may be faced with fines and severe penalties.