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Are Text-to-Win Sweepstakes Legal in the US?

Are you planning to offer a text sweepstakes, but  want to make sure that what you’re offering is actually legal? You’ve come to the right place.

If you’ve heard a little bit about sweepstakes, you already know that asking people to make a purchase in order to qualify to win your sweepstakes is illegal. But what is a text to win and is it really allowed?

Here is a brief explanation. Please note, the regulations discussed here apply to the United States only. If you’re planning to offer a text sweepstakes in other countries, we recommend you seek out legal counsel for further advice.

First, Make Sure You’re Not Running a Lottery

A lottery involves selling tickets and giving away prizes to ticket holders at random. In the U.S., lotteries are only allowed to be run by the government and several states don’t allow them at all.

A giveaway that requires a purchase therefore becomes an illegal lottery, which is not allowed in any state. Make sure you don’t require a purchase.

So What Makes it a Sweepstakes?

Typically when you offer a giveaway this is what’s known as a sweepstakes.

Here prizes are given away at zero cost to the entrants. Winners are selected randomly and there’s no consideration (or judging) involved in choosing a winner, only the luck of the draw. Think of it as a game of luck.

In most cases, it’s the consideration aspect of a promotion that can make your giveaway illegal, especially if you’re requiring participants to spend money.

This is why sweepstakes always includes the phrase ‘NO PURCHASE NECESSARY’ in the official rules.

What is a Text-to-Win?

A text to win or text sweepstakes is basically a sweepstakes done through the mobile text channel. The same sweepstakes rules apply, as well as text message marketing rules. The rules for text require disclosures and opt-ins to protect consumers. They’re different from sweepstakes rules, but still apply and need to be included when promoting the sweepstakes. 

So the answer to the original question is yes. A text-to-win sweepstakes is legal, as long as it follows sweepstakes regulations and text message marketing rules.

However, we still recommend you get advice from a lawyer before starting a promotion. You want to make sure you’re compliant and there may be industry regulations you’ll need to consider.

To get started with your own text-to-win, see features and pricing.