No Purchase Necessary for Running a Sweepstakes
In the United States, No Purchase Necessary is a term associated with all sweepstakes. Legally, in order to run a sweepstakes you cannot require a purchase in order to enter. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t ask entrants to make a purchase – it just means that anyone entering without purchase must have the same chance as someone entering with purchase.
Here are two ways to use a sweepstakes to boost purchases and still meet the legal requirement for no purchase necessary:
1. Alternate Means of Entry: You can ask people to make a purchase in exchange for an entry, but the trick is you must give entrants the opportunity to earn the same number of entries without purchase as the same number of entries they can earn with purchase. This is called allowing people to earn entries by alternate means of entry (AMOE). An AMOE can be earned several ways, but the bottom line is that for every purchase entry people can earn, you must provide a way to earn an AMOE.
2. Purchase required prior to start date: If you run a subscription service or plan on offering your paid members a chance to win something special, you can run a sweepstakes open to members only – but the eligibility date must be before the start of the promotion. For example, if you charge $30 a month for your service, then you can run a sweepstakes for only paying subscribers if it starts the first day of the month, but only members that paid prior to the start of the month can be entered in the drawing. Anyone that joins on the first or after that would not be eligible. The caveat to this is that you can’t announce or advertise the next month’s sweepstakes or prize in advance to lure people to join – otherwise that would be enticing people to have to make the purchase without a non-purchase method of entry and you would then need to provide an AMOE.
Another point of confusion with “No Purchase Necessary” is if an entry is “free” if you have to do anything extra, or use a special platform, to complete the entry which might cost you time or sign-up fees, which would be consideration. Here is a short list of these types of entries, and whether or not you would need an AMOE:
• Text messages: Since people have to pay for cell phone service, and text messaging is sometimes billed by the text, you would need to have an additional AMOE method of entry for a text based sweepstakes.
• Web entry: Since the Internet is free and accessible for free from any library, free web entry is considered a no purchase method of entry and no AMOE is required.
• Social post or comment: As long as the creation of a social account on the social platform is free, you would not need to have an AMOE method of entry to require someone to post on a social platform for the entry. You would, however, need to pay attention to the promotion guidelines of those platforms.
• App downloads: If the mobile app is free and available to all platforms, it is usually seen as not needing an AMOE, but if it is not available to all, then an AMOE would be necessary.
• Email: Anyone can set up a free email address these days, so this is considered a no purchase method of entry.
• In-store entry: Some states view a required store visit as consideration since a person would need to pay to travel to the store location, so an AMOE would be necessary in those states.
If you have questions about your next sweepstakes and if it can have a purchase requirement or needs an AMOE, contact us.
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