How to Register a Sweepstakes in Florida
Joe Keffas, one of Marden-Kane’s Promotion Coordinators, contributed this informative article on the Florida sweepstakes registration process.
Does your sweepstakes have a total prize Approximate Retail Value of over $5,000? If you’ve answered yes, then this blog is for you. When your sweepstakes has a total prize Approximate Retail Value of over $5,000, by law you have to register it with the state of Florida. (Note: You do not have to register a contest in the state of Florida no matter what the prize value is, only a sweepstakes.)
The process for registering a sweepstakes in Florida can seem a bit overwhelming to someone that has not done it before, but the folks here at Marden-Kane are experts, and have done so many it’s become second nature to us. We can help you through the process.
So how does the process work?
In order to register a sweepstakes in Florida you need to submit a filing fee, along with some basic paperwork. This paperwork must also include a copy of the official rules as well as a surety bond, opening a trust account, or if you have waiver status in the state, showing proof of that. All of this needs to be submitted 7 days prior to the start date of your promotion. If you register after the 7 days you could receive a fine of $1,000.
Securing a Bond or Opening a Trust Account
Let’s start with the bond or trust account. If you are registering a promotion with the state of Florida, you need to submit a bond or trust account for the total Approximate Retail Value of the prize. This account is set up in case something happens that might prevent you from having the funds to fulfill the prizes to the winners. With the money in the account, the state can ensure that you can provide the prizes.
When it comes to the bond or trust account, if you open the account and provide the information to us, no further paperwork is needed. If we open the account for you, then you need to fill out an affidavit that says that you give us permission to open this account for you. The affidavit has to be notarized and can be used for other promotions in the future. In either case, you have to come up with the funds, or we can invoice you for the full amount.
You can also secure what is called a waiver status in Florida if you have successfully run a sweepstakes without any issues for 5 consecutive years. By having waiver status you do not need to open a trust account or surety bond to register with the state. A waiver status is not automatic – you must apply for it – but we can help you do that as well.
Once you have registered with Florida they will send you a confirmation letter letting you know that the sweepstakes has been registered. This letter contains a code that is specific to your sweepstakes that we need to include on all correspondence with Florida. Once you have registered, the rules of the promotion and any parameters of the promotion (dates, times, prizes, etc) cannot change or you will be fined.
Filing Winner Information
After the sweepstakes has ended, you have 60 days from the drawing date to submit an official winners list to the state of Florida. This is required as part of the process and you can be fined if you don’t file your winner information in a timely manner. Fines can range from a few hundred dollars and up.
The winners list must include names and full addresses of all prize winners that win a prize with a value larger than $25. If you can’t get all the winners within the 60 days you can file for an extension, or we can file one for you, which usually extends the deadline for another 60 days.
After you submit the winner’s list to Florida they send back a letter letting you know that you can close your trust or bond with your financial institution.
It can seem a bit intimidating, but we have successfully registered promotions in Florida for decades. If you need help, contact us and we can get the process going for your next sweepstakes.
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