Contest Laws by State


Before you run a promotion in the United States, you might want to check sweepstakes or contest laws by state. Some states have more vigorous laws regulating sweepstakes and contests and you can’t claim you didn’t know what you didn’t know after the fact – there may be big fines for non-compliance.

US state map - contest laws by state

Here is a sampling of states that have strict laws regarding promotions:

Florida: In Florida you must register and bond any sweepstakes where a cumulative total of prizes is over $5,000 and the winners are determined by chance in a random drawing. This must be done at least 7 days prior to the start of the promotion. When the promotion is over you must then file a winners list that contains names and full addresses of all winners. Florida also levies heavy fines on companies that don’t follow the guidelines.

New York: Similar to Florida, New York requires a registration and bonding of a sweepstakes, or random drawing, where prizes are cumulatively worth more than $5,000. They also require the posting of winner’s lists. New York, however, requires filing be completed 30 days prior to the start of the promotion.

Rhode Island: In Rhode Island you must register any promotion that is offered at a retail location where prizes have a cumulative total over $500. That means if your method of entry involves a trip to the store to fill out a ballot or to make a purchase, even if an alternate method of entry is provided where a store visit is not required, it must be registered.

Michigan: In Michigan if your entry is contingent on a store or retail visit, they interpret that as consideration and it is not allowed in a Sweepstakes. Also in Michigan (and in Massachusetts and Virginia) tobacco related sweepstakes are prohibited.

California: California has the strictest regulations regarding alcohol related sweepstakes, although some sweepstakes are allowed. Other states with alcohol related sweepstakes restrictions include Alabama, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, and Utah.

This is just a sampling of contest laws by state that could affect your next promotion. Do yourself a favor and contact a promotional marketing agency and get assistance in drafting Official Rules that will be legally compliant in all states.

Marden-Kane is here to help you with your next promotion. Contact us to get started.

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