Do sweepstakes need to be registered? Yes. In fact, there are three states that require certain types of sweepstakes be registered before they can be implemented in their state. These states’ regulations include significant fines for companies that fail to comply.
The three states and their requirements are:
Florida is by far the most aggressive enforcer of sweepstakes laws. Florida requires registration for any sweepstakes with a prize value of more than $5,000. The law also requires that the sponsor obtain a surety bond for the value of any prizes and pay a filing fee of $100 for each sweepstakes. The sponsor must submit the registration no later than seven days before the sweepstakes begins and also submit a list of winners — and the prizes that each has won — within 60 days after the winners are selected. A sponsor faces significant fines and penalties if it fails to meet any of these requirements or deadlines.
Like Florida, New York’s regulations require sponsors to register any sweepstakes offering prizes valued at more than $5,000. New York also requires a surety bond in the amount of the prize value and has similar deadlines for submitting the registration (30 days before the sweepstakes begins) and winners list (90 days after the sweepstakes ends). New York typically may not be as aggressive in enforcing its regulations as Florida, but it may still impose monetary fines and penalties for failure to comply.
Rhode Island set a much lower registration threshold in its sweepstakes statute. Sweepstakes sponsors must register with the state if they’re offering prizes valued at $500 or more. However, the Rhode Island law applies only to sweepstakes offered at in-state retail establishments. For example, if a sweepstakes requires customers to walk into a retail store to enter, it needs to be registered in Rhode Island. That said, Rhode Island doesn’t require sweepstakes sponsors to secure a bond or submit a winners’ list. And sponsors must only maintain information identifying the winners for six months.
Because of the regulations of these states, some sponsors will exclude residents of one or more of these jurisdictions from participating in the sweepstakes. However, more experienced sweepstakes creators simply make sure they meet the filing requirements, freeing the sponsor to roll out the sweepstakes in any state and boosting the promotion’s possible audience.
This post was written by retired Thompson Coburn partner Dale Joerling. If you have any questions about the topics discussed in this post, please contact Thompson Coburn partner Hap Burke.