Florida is a recognized leader in the development and enforcement of sweepstakes laws and regulations in the United States.
It’s one of only three states in the country that requires certain sweepstakes be registered and bonded before they can operate in the state. Florida also closely monitors key aspects of these promotions, from drafts of official rules to the final list of prize winners.
Florida’s regulators are not hesitant to bring administrative actions and impose fines for a sponsor’s failure to comply with the state’s requirements. However, the knowledgeable staff of Florida’s Division of Consumer Services is also very pleasant and helpful in answering questions about sweepstakes in their state.
While preparing a recent blog post, it occurred to me that I wasn’t certain how Florida would respond to various situations. I requested the opportunity to interview a member of the Consumer Services division about some of these questions and several others relating to sweepstakes in Florida.
The resulting answers are illuminating. But before we dive into some sweepstakes issues, let’s get to know our interview subject: Liz Compton, the chief of the Bureau of Compliance at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Dale Joerling: What’s your background in state government, and how did you arrive at the Florida Department of Consumer Services?
Liz Compton: I was a television news reporter and anchor for 15 years. When a communications position opened up at the Department, I applied for it and was fortunate enough to get the job. When the new commissioner was elected, I was promoted to Bureau Chief in the Division of Compliance.
Dale Joerling: What do you like about your job?
Liz Compton: I always enjoyed educating people and protecting consumers and business owners from fraud. This job gives me the opportunity to continue in that direction. I also like the fact that when we license new businesses and renew existing ones, we are supporting job creation in Florida.
Dale Joerling: How has the volume or type of sweepstakes registered in Florida changed over the years?
Liz Compton: For the past few years, filings had remained pretty steady until the economy experienced a setback. Filings are picking up at this point, and that trend is expected to continue.
Dale Joerling: How have online sweepstakes affected your enforcement workload?
Liz Compton: They haven’t had an impact really. Online filings are referred just like any paper filings with the same time frame.
Dale Joerling: What’s the most unique or strangest prize you’ve ever seen advertised in a sweepstakes?
Liz Compton: A trip to NYC for a colonoscopy.
Tomorrow, we’ll share Part Two of our exclusive interview with Liz Compton. Liz will respond to some sweepstakes hypotheticals and reveal the most common mistake made by those who register sweepstakes in Florida.
Anyone with questions may contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at:
1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) - Florida only
1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) - En Español
850-410-3800 - Calling from outside of Florida
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.