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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

New Missouri law legalizes prize-based savings promotion programs

Dale Joerling Greg Omer February 3, 2017
piggy bank with cash

Late last year, a new Missouri law went into effect that allows banks and credit unions to sponsor certain savings promotion programs for their customers. Under these programs, by opening a new savings account or depositing a specified amount of money into an account that is already open, customers will have a chance to win prizes. READ MORE

Read this before you co-sponsor a sweepstakes or contest

Dale Joerling February 20, 2015
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Quite often a company will see an opportunity to team with another company to create a sweepstakes or contest that will benefit both of them individually. For example, a manufacturer of insect repellent and the owner of a fishing resort both target the same customers but are not competitors. READ MORE

Sweepstakes bonds 101: An interview with a bond broker

Dale Joerling October 27, 2014
Marcia new

One little-understood aspect of sweepstakes law are surety bonds, which are required to conduct sweepstakes in New York and Florida. For more insight on why sweepstakes sponsors need bonds and how the bonding process works, I turned to Marcia Cesafsky, a highly experienced bond broker who serves as Senior Broker of Specialty Surety for Aon Risk Solutions. 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

Fraudulent sweepstakes: What can we do?

Dale Joerling June 9, 2014
Sweepstakes_default blog

Nearly every year, complaints about sweepstakes crop up among the top 10 complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission. Recently I received a call from a number which I did not recognize. The woman on the line told me her name was Louise and she asked me if I could help her. READ MORE

Can a grab bag be a sweepstakes?

Dale Joerling February 4, 2014
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When I hear the words “grab bag,” I think about stores that used to stock plain wrapped packages labeled as either for “boys” or “girls." For a dollar, you could choose one of these packages without knowing what it contained. 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

Q&A with About.com sweepstakes expert Sandra Grauschopf, Part One

Dale Joerling September 25, 2013
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The sweepstakes world can be pretty evenly divided into two parts: The companies sponsoring sweepstakes, and the consumers who participate in them. Rarely do you have someone with a foot in both worlds, but Sandra Grauschopf does just that. 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

Is your promotion discriminatory in California?

April 11, 2013
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It might not occur to you to think about civil rights act compliance when planning an in-store or retail promotion – but that’s just what the state of California requires. The Unruh Civil Rights Act is a California statute that specifically prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation. 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

Contest insurance, part two: Protecting your payout

Dale Joerling February 27, 2013
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Part 1 of this series discussed how important it is to have contest insurance if the promotion has an expensive prize. It also warned that there are scammers who will sell you insurance but refuse to pay if someone wins the contest. READ MORE

Contest insurance, part one: Get it or regret it

Dale Joerling February 20, 2013
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Recently I have helped several clients with contests that seemingly required entrants to do the impossible to win a prize. One promotion required contestants to guess a six-digit code that would open a safe. READ MORE

Boot Camp #3: Travel prizes

Dale Joerling February 15, 2013
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“Win a trip to Tahiti.” “Travel to a NASCAR Race.” “You May Win a Fishing Trip to Canada.” “Win a Trip to Outer Space on the Virgin Galactic.” All of these titles are guaranteed to attract attention, particularly that last option, which could send your contest entrants over the moon with excitement. 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

Introducing Sweepstakes Boot Camp

Dale Joerling December 18, 2012
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Fitness boot camps are all the rage these days. At these grueling workouts, participants run sprints, flip tractor tires and strain through push-ups, all with a red-faced “drill sergeant” screaming in their face. READ MORE

Cake contest winner hits politician with not-so-sweet lawsuit

Dale Joerling November 19, 2012
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Each sweepstakes is vulnerable to litigation. The number of entries or the value of prizes matters not. So don’t think your modest sweepstakes or contest is immune from a disgruntled entrant who knows her way to the courthouse steps. 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

Consult this checklist before promoting your next sweepstakes

Dale Joerling August 22, 2012
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Any businesses that promote sweepstakes should be just as vigilant about double-checking all elements of their promotions before releasing them to the general public. To that end, I’ve created a checklist of 12 of the most important things to look for in these types of promotions. READ MORE

5 pitfalls of refer-a-friend sweepstakes options

Dale Joerling July 13, 2012
refer a friend

When I saw an ad for a new Mexican restaurant that opened near my office, I thought about trying it. When I received a 10% off coupon in the mail, I thought about it again. But when my brother told me it was now his favorite restaurant, I went there for lunch on that very same day. READ MORE

Sweepstakes nightmares: Your prize provider drops out

Dale Joerling May 18, 2012
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Companies beware the wrath of a consumer with social media savvy and a serious axe to grind. READ MORE

Get your eyes on the prize: Tummy tucks but no tobacco

Dale Joerling March 27, 2012
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For the most part almost anything can serve as a prize. But several categories of items may be illegal or so closely regulated that the related complications of offering them may prevent their use as prizes. READ MORE

Sweepstakes again rank high on FTC’s Top Ten complaints list

Dale Joerling March 12, 2012
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Each year the FTC issues a report that categorizes the thousands of complaints it received from consumers in the previous year. The “promotions for free prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries” category is No. 3 on this year’s list, beating out 27 other types of complaints. In fact, the sweepstakes category been ranked in the Top 10 since the list was created in 1999. 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

Shield your sweepstakes from gambling laws

Dale Joerling December 21, 2011
poker chips and playing cards

Virtually all state laws define illegal gambling as having three basic elements – prize, chance and consideration. The job of sweepstakes creators is to eliminate one or more of these elements from every sweepstakes they prepare. READ MORE