In yesterday’s post, we met Liz Compton, the chief of the Bureau of Compliance at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Liz kindly agreed to an interview, and told us about her journalism background, her role in Florida’s job creation efforts, and the strangest sweepstakes she’s ever encountered: A promotion for a New York-style colonoscopy.
Today in our discussion with Liz, we tackle some real sweepstakes issues encountered by companies across the country who register their promotions in Florida.
Dale Joerling: If, for whatever reason, a sponsor does not register a sweepstakes that is required to be registered in Florida, what should it do if:
a. The sweepstakes has not begun, but the deadline for filing the registration has passed;
b. The sweepstakes has begun and is underway but no winners have been selected; and,
c. The sweepstakes is over, the winners have been selected and the prizes delivered?
Liz Compton: In all instances, you must file a registration. Penalties will be assessed for late filings.
Dale Joerling: What should a sponsor do if the actual value of a prize was estimated to be under $5,000 but turns out (after the sweepstakes is over) to exceed $5,000 and the sweepstakes has not been registered in Florida?
Liz Compton: If the prize amount adds up to more than $5,000 they have to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. If they don’t register seven days in advance of the start of the sweepstakes, they are subject to penalties. Sweepstakes with prizes close to $5,000 that could go over should err on the side of caution and register with the department.
Dale Joerling: What are the most common mistakes made by those registering sweepstakes in Florida?
Liz Compton: The number one occurrence is not filing in a timely manner. Another issue we see is not properly identifying the promotion’s operator.
Dale Joerling: How do you define “operator”? How do sweepstakes registrants fail to properly identify the operator? Can you give an example?
Liz Compton: An “operator” is any person, firm, corporation, or association or agent or employee thereof who promotes, operates, or conducts a game promotion, except any charitable nonprofit organization. The operator noted in the rules is not always the operator noted on all other filing documents (application and financial security). Here’s a few examples of the operator not being properly identified on the filing documents: The promoter will list their company as the operator, a subsidiary of the operator would be listed as operator, or an entirely different company not mentioned in the rules as operator would be noted on all other filing documents.
Dale Joerling: If a 12-month sweepstakes has a drawing every month from all accumulated entries (i.e. entries that were received from the beginning of the promotion) and the prize is $1,000 at each drawing, must it be registered in Florida? Or are these drawings considered separate sweepstakes that do not meet the dollar amount of the registration threshold?
Liz Compton: If your monthly entries are included in all subsequent drawings, this would be considered one promotion and one filing would need to be provided. The total of all prizes for each month must be added together for all months to arrive at the grand total. Based on the $1,000 prize example, you would need to file one promotion valued at $12,000.
Dale Joerling: What about monthly drawings from only from the entries received during each month of the promotion?
Liz Compton: If your monthly entries are not included in any subsequent drawings, each month would be considered a separate promotion. Filing would be required for only those months in which the total of all prizes offered exceeds $5,000. Based on your example, filings would not be required since there are no months during which the prize total exceeds $5,000.
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.