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‘Void in California’ no more: Alcohol beverage producers free to market sweepstakes

October 8, 2012

Since the late 1990s, California law has prohibited producers and suppliers of beer, wine, and spirits from conducting sweepstakes or contests in California. It was the only state in the nation to prohibit promotions by alcoholic beverage manufacturers. 

For those of us who help such alcoholic drink manufacturers create sweepstakes and contests, this has meant making certain the promotion was invalid in California. We did this by applying the familiar term “VOID IN CALIFORNIA,” to comply with the laws. 

However, on Sept. 23, 2012, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 778, which permits manufacturers and suppliers of alcoholic beverages to conduct sweepstakes and contests in the state. The new law will allow alcoholic beverage licensees to conduct consumer sweepstakes and contests, subject to a list of more than 20 conditions that must be met.

Some of those conditions include:

  1. Entrants must be 21 years of age or older to participate.
  2. The contest cannot involve consumption of alcoholic beverage.
  3. Caps, corks, labels, etc. cannot be used as an entry.
  4. Alcohol beverages cannot be awarded as prizes.
  5. Entry or extra chances cannot be awarded for purchase of alcoholic beverages.

The statute can be found here. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.

The new law contains many specific conditions that must be met. As with any new law, you should read it very carefully and contact a lawyer familiar with sweepstakes and contest law if you have any questions about the statute’s requirements.

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.