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Sweepstakes Law

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Be careful reselling a sweepstakes prize

Dale Joerling April 19, 2017
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The official rules for sweepstakes and contests should contain all of the material details of the promotion, which includes key information pertaining to the value of the prizes. Sponsors should keep this in mind when preparing official rules. READ MORE

FCC may be close to allowing broadcasters to disclose contest terms online

Dale Joerling September 1, 2015
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The Federal Communication Commission may be on the verge of permitting broadcasters to present sweepstakes and contest rules online, rather than during the on-air description of the promotion. The FCC’s agenda for its open meeting on September 17, 2015, lists as one of the two subjects to be discussed: “Modernizing contest rules. READ MORE

Five tips for ‘Mega Sponsors’ of sweepstakes and contests

Dale Joerling April 28, 2015
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Over the past 18 years, I have been very fortunate to represent several of what I call “Mega Sponsors” of sweepstakes and contests. My definition of a Mega Sponsor is a company that sponsors more than 50 sweepstakes or contests in a year. READ MORE

7 important lessons from past FCC contest cases

Dale Joerling August 11, 2014
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The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has brought a number of cases against broadcasters who conduct or advertise a contest on air. These cases range from failure to accurately disclose the end date for a sweepstakes, to a station’s employee rigging a contest so that his friends and family would win. READ MORE

The FCC’s contest regulations: A primer

Dale Joerling July 29, 2014
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Our recent post about the possibility that the Federal Communications Commission will no longer require broadcasters to disclose contest rules in their advertisements brought several questions from readers. Most of the questions were about the FCC regulations and enforcement activities. Here is a brief overview of the two major components of the FCC’s Contest Rule. READ MORE

Will the FCC allow online disclosure of contest rules? Stay tuned

Dale Joerling June 25, 2014
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Anyone who watches television or listens to the radio has heard a fast-talking announcer race through the abbreviated rules for a sweepstakes or contest. Or perhaps you’ve seen a copy of the official rules for only a second or two in a microscopic font size on your television screen. READ MORE

General Mills dips a toe in forced arbitration for sweepstakes, contests

Dale Joerling April 23, 2014
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Last week, The New York Times reported that General Mills added language to its website notifying its customers that if they downloaded a coupon, joined the company’s online community on places like Facebook, or entered a sweepstakes or contest sponsored by General Mills, they would give up their right to sue the company. READ MORE

Abbreviated sweepstakes rules: Don’t give them short shrift

Dale Joerling December 11, 2013
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You couldn’t live in the United States very long without at some point seeing abbreviated rules for a sweepstakes. They are usually found in the fine print at the bottom of an ad, sign, email message, bottle top, or banner, and almost always begin with the words “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.” READ MORE

Creating an in-house incentive contest? Don’t forget the rules

Dale Joerling November 15, 2013
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If you create sweepstakes or contests, you understand that having a comprehensive set of official rules is essential. But what about a contest that is part of an incentive program for a company’s employees, dealers, or distributors? READ MORE

Sandra Grauschopf interview, Part Two: How to avoid annoying your sweepstakes entrants

Dale Joerling September 26, 2013
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Today we’re continuing our conversation with Sandra Grauschopf, About.com’s resident expert on all topics related to sweepstakes and contests. Sandra manages the site’s forum for avid “sweepers” and also consults with companies sponsoring promotions. READ MORE

Vote farmers plow under Taylor Swift contests

Dale Joerling July 26, 2013
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Early in her career, Taylor Swift was a spokesperson for one of our clients. I drafted the official rules for several contests that were used for her concerts and appearances at the client’s sponsored events. (I am secretly convinced that it was those contest rules that lead to her phenomenal success a singer.) READ MORE

Supermarket chain gets freezer burn from $100K sweepstakes fine

June 13, 2013
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Once again, a large retailer has been charged with violating New York state law by failing to properly inform customers that they could enter a sweepstakes without having to make a purchase. This time it was The Great Atlantic and Pacific Teas Company. READ MORE

Do sweepstakes and contests sponsors have to award all prizes?

Dale Joerling June 11, 2013
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Most people would think that giving the prizes away in a sweepstakes or contest would be the easiest and most enjoyable part of being a sponsor. While in most instances that is correct, there are times when giving a prize away can be very difficult or maybe even impossible. READ MORE

Boot Camp #4: Travel companions

Dale Joerling March 20, 2013
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When someone wins a trip in a sweepstakes or contest, they usually expect that the prize will be for two people so they can bring a travel companion along on their journey. If your promotion requires winners to fly solo, you need to make that very clear in the rules and any accompanying advertisements or other promotions. READ MORE

Boot Camp #2: Photo and video contests

Dale Joerling February 1, 2013
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A picture is worth a thousand words, but a picture of your customers using your product may be worth thousands of new buyers. In the past, photo contests usually cropped up as “cutest baby” or “best picture of the year” competitions. READ MORE

Boot Camp #1 - Gift cards as prizes

Dale Joerling January 23, 2013
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How much does the type of prize affect the popularity of a sweepstakes? I believe it can make a huge difference, even if the alternative prizes have the same value. READ MORE

Pinterest issues new guidelines for sweepstakes and contests

Dale Joerling December 3, 2012
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Pinterest’s guidelines caution companies that many of these requirements vary from place to place. They also urge promotions sponsors to work with a lawyer to make sure they are in compliance. READ MORE

Get drawn to our new sweepstakes comic, ‘Swept Away’

Dale Joerling October 24, 2012
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“Swept Away" is a two-page comic that follows the colorful misadventures of a marketing team that makes a questionable choice on their official rules and ends up paying the price (literally). READ MORE

Lawyer who lost $100,000 contest prize spurs debate about ‘vote farming’

Dale Joerling October 9, 2012
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Broadly defined, “vote farming” involves contest entrants launching broad social media or online “campaigns” with the goal of soliciting votes from strangers and winning the contest. READ MORE

Got an in-store sweepstakes? Better register in Rhode Island

Dale Joerling September 13, 2012
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Under Rhode Island law, any game, contest or other promotion offering the opportunity to win prizes valued over $500 must be registered with the secretary of state if the promotion takes place in a retail establishment. READ MORE

Does the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act apply to your sweepstakes?

Dale Joerling August 28, 2012
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Promoting the sweepstakes via the U.S. Postal Service triggers application of the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act (DMPEA) which contains a sizeable list of items that must be included in the sweepstakes. READ MORE

Sweepstakes nightmare: You failed to register your sweepstakes

Dale Joerling June 5, 2012
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In sports, as in sweepstakes: Sometimes trying to do the right thing at the wrong time can lead to trouble. READ MORE

Sweepstakes loser wins in Canada’s highest court

Dale Joerling March 5, 2012
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This decision sends a clear message to anyone sponsoring a sweepstakes or contest in Canada (and particularly in Quebec) that promotions such as this must not deceive consumers. READ MORE

Political sweepstakes – Win a lunch with President Obama or Mitt Romney

Dale Joerling January 10, 2012
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Businesses use the Internet to host promotions because they increase publicity about their products and provide the email addresses of potential customers. Those three advantages are as desirable to political campaigns as they are to businesses. READ MORE