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Sweepstakes Official Rules Template

January 31, 2022
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Sweepstakes Official Rules Template

Get access to all the rules for sweepstakes that you need to run a promotion in all fifty states. 

Sweepstakes continue to be one of the most popular marketing tactics among brands, agencies, and digital marketers. It’s important as a brand to ensure your sweepstakes are legally compliant—so we created a sweepstakes official rules template for you to use.

Within the United States, sweepstakes law varies from state to state, but almost all states have similar laws regarding the operation of sweepstakes. 

One thing remains true in every state: all sweepstakes must have a set of official rules under which they operate.

To help you with this, we have created a sweepstakes official rules template that you can use to launch your sweepstakes.

See the official rules template on Google Docs, or you can view them below.

Remember, you can use ViralSweep to build, launch, and run your sweepstakes, and the official rules template is included in our campaign builder.

Why You Need Official Sweepstakes Rules

Who doesn’t love the feeling of being a potential winner? 

This is the definitive guide to all things sweepstakes rules from awarding grand prize winners to what kind of personal information you need to gather (usually just their name and a valid e-mail address or phone number on an official entry form, most forms now don’t ask for a social security number) and everything in between.  

We also cover entry periods, prize notification, use of any automated system, prize drawing, as well as if you should have a publicity release, issues regarding potential property damage, unauthorized access, deciding on an entry period, things potential entrants should know, additional disclosures needed, if you are running a sweepstakes for a particular purpose, and what you need to know for every state of residence.   

If you have a history of unsuccessful efforts, technical difficulties, unsure of what required documents there are, this is the resource you have been looking for.

What are Sweepstakes Rules?

Sweepstakes rules are vital to running a legal and enforceable contest. It is important to note that sweepstakes laws are regulated by states, so you must check with the local laws in your area. 

It will be your responsibility to make sure the legal residents of your state are aware of these rules. 

Basic rules are important to start with. For example, every sweepstakes must define the terms, identify the prize and describe the method for selecting winners. 

As well, potential prize winners should be made aware of the rules before entering contests. Things to be considered are 

  • The use of any prize
  • How the winner is identified – is it the account holder or the owner of the valid email address on the entry form (if they are not the same person – and who the authorized account holder of the email address) 
  • If there are age requirements – who the respective parents or legal guardian is of the Grand Prize winner  
  • How you will address damages of any kind 
  • Who your promotional partners are (and respective parent companies)
  • Third-party notifications, and 
  • if you are announcing the stated number of entries

Maintaining Compliance with Sweepstakes Laws 

Sweepstakes require compliance with federal and state laws. It is important these laws are followed to protect your brand. 

Dispute Resolution

When running a sweepstakes, you want to make it legal and compliant with your contestants. 

In the event of a dispute, however, you want to be prepared by already having published all the official rules of the sweepstakes at the time of entry. 

Creating Transparency

Official sweepstakes rules need to be transparent

Entrants are expecting to win, so you need to make clear exactly what their chances will be of winning a prize. 

Also helpful is identifying your sweepstakes sponsor, any service providers, what you will do to address and identify decisions of the sponsor, sweepstakes entities, typographical errors, and the hiring of a neutral arbitrator if needed.

Sweepstakes Official Rules Template

Sweepstakes continue to be one of the most popular marketing tactics among brands, agencies, and digital marketers. 

It’s important as a brand to ensure your sweepstakes are legally compliant—so we created a sweepstakes official rules template for you to use which is below and in this Google Doc.

[Sweepstakes Title]

OFFICIAL RULES

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE THE CHANCES OF WINNING.

1. Eligibility: Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is open only to those who sign up at the sweepstakes page located at [URL to sweepstakes] and who are [age] as of the date of entry. The sweepstakes is only open to legal residents of [eligible countries] and is void where prohibited by law. Employees of [company name] (the “Sponsor”) their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, suppliers and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, you agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and you represent and warrant that you meet the eligibility requirements set forth herein. In addition, you agree to accept the decisions of [company name], as final and binding as it relates to the content. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws.

3. Sweepstakes Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on or about [start date] and ending [end date]. All online entries must be received by [end date] 11:59PM EST.

4. How to Enter: The Sweepstakes must be entered by submitting an entry using the online form provided on this Sweepstakes site, located at [URL to sweepstakes]. The entry must fulfill all sweepstakes requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are not complete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of [company name]. You may enter only once and you must fill in the information requested. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If you use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of [company name].

5. Prizes: Winners will receive list prizes/approximate retail value. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by the Sponsor. No cash or other prize substitution permitted except at Sponsor’s discretion. The prize is non transferable. Any and all prize related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes shall be the sole responsibility of the winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by winners is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for [company name] to use winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.

6. Odds: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.

7. Winner selection and notification: Winners of the Sweepstakes will be selected in a random drawing under the supervision of the Sponsor. Winners will be notified via email to the email address they entered the Sweepstakes with within five (5) days following the winner selection. [company name] shall have no liability for a winner’s failure to receive notices due to winners’ spam, junk e-mail or other security settings or for winners’ provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If the selected winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim the prize within 72 hours from the time award notification was sent, or fails to timely return a completed and executed declaration and releases as required, prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected.

The receipt by winner of the prize offered in this Sweepstakes is conditioned upon compliance with any and all federal and state laws and regulations. ANY VIOLATION OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES BY ANY WINNER (AT SPONSOR’S SOLE DISCRETION) WILL RESULT IN SUCH WINNER’S DISQUALIFICATION AS WINNER OF THE SWEEPSTAKES AND ALL PRIVILEGES AS WINNER WILL BE IMMEDIATELY TERMINATED.

8. Rights Granted by you: By entering this content you understand that [company name], anyone acting on behalf of [company name], or its respective licensees, successors and assigns will have the right, where permitted by law, without any further notice, review or consent to print, publish, broadcast, distribute, and use, worldwide in any media now known or hereafter in perpetuity and throughout the World, your entry, including, without limitation, the entry and winner’s name, portrait, picture, voice, likeness, image or statements about the Sweepstakes, and biographical information as news, publicity or information and for trade, advertising, public relations and promotional purposes without any further compensation.

9. Terms: [company name] reserves the right, in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes should (in its sole discretion) a virus, bugs, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes. In such case, [company name] may select the recipients from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by [company name]. [company name] reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual who tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes or website or violates these Terms & Conditions.

[company name] has the right, in its sole discretion, to maintain the integrity of the Sweepstakes, to void entries for any reason, including, but not limited to; multiple entries from the same user from different IP addresses; multiple entries from the same computer in excess of that allowed by sweepstakes rules; or the use of bots, macros or scripts or other technical means for entering.
Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, [company name] reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

By entering the Sweepstakes you agree to receive email newsletters periodically from [company name]. You can opt-out of receiving this communication at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the newsletter.

10. Limitation of Liability: By entering you agree to release and hold harmless [company name] and its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from (i) such entrant’s participation in the sweepstakes and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize or any portion thereof, (ii) technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunctioning of any computer, cable, network, hardware or software; (iii) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (iv) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Promotion; (v) electronic or human error which may occur in the administration of the Promotion or the processing of entries.

11. Disputes: THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF [country] AND [state/province], WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this Sweepstakes, participant agrees that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in [state/province] having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Sweepstakes), and participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

12. Privacy Policy: Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy stated on the [company name] Web Site. To read the Privacy Policy, [privacy policy URL] click here.

13. Winners List: To obtain a copy of the winner’s name or a copy of these Official Rules, mail your request along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: [company name] [address] [city] [state/province] [postal code] [country]. Requests must be received no later than [date].

14. Sponsor: The Sponsor of the Sweepstakes is [company name] [address] [city] [state/province] [postal code] [country].

15. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Google. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this sweepstakes and not to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Google.


Sweepstakes Legal Checklist

If you plan to run a sweepstakes, you should always double-check every element of the promotion before releasing it to the general public. 

To help you with this, we have created a complete sweepstakes legal checklist that will assist you in evaluating your promotion before it launches, but a summary is below.

Official Rules

Every sweepstakes needs a set of official rules that are in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws. 

ViralSweep provides a sweepstakes rules template you can use, but we suggest you always have a lawyer read over your rules to ensure that you are in compliance with the law. 

The information contained in this post is not meant to be legal advice and you should check with your legal counsel if necessary.

No Purchase Necessary

If you read sweepstakes rules, you will usually always see NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. 

This means that entrants do not have to purchase anything in order to enter. If you are running a sweepstakes and you are asking people to buy something in order to enter, then that makes it an illegal lottery – do not do that.

Social Media Policies

Each social media network has different rules, so if you are using any network in relation to your promotion, make sure to research that network’s specific platform policies regarding promotions.

Privacy Policy

A privacy policy is required by law, so if your business does not have one, you will need to create one. 

You can use this free privacy policy generator to get started, from TermsFeed.

Sweepstakes Registration and Bonding

If the total prize value of your sweepstakes is going to exceed $5,000, then it may need to be registered and bonded in the states of New York and Florida. 

You should check with the states of New York and Florida to see if your particular sweepstakes falls under their registration requirements.

Sweepstakes Eligibility Requirements

While your official rules will always have an eligibility section, it is important that you are very clear about who is eligible to participate. 

For example, if your sweepstakes is only open to residents that are a certain age or located in a certain locality, this must be included. 

Promotion Details

The details of the promotion such as the start and end dates, as well as the number of entries each person may receive, should be clearly stated in the official rules. 

Advertising Your Sweepstakes

Whether you plan to advertise your promotion via print, radio, television, direct mail, or on the internet, you need to include certain abbreviated rules disclosures – which vary from state to state.

Winner Releases

With major prizes like trips, vehicles, and any high-ticket items over $600, winners should sign and return an affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity release. 

If you need an affidavit of eligibility for your promotion, you can find samples on Rocket Lawyer: Affidavit of Eligibility.

Issuing 1099 to Winners

The IRS mandates that the value of a sweepstakes prize should be included in the winner’s gross income. 

If the value of the prize is $600 or more, you should issue Form 1099 with the IRS and send a copy to the winner. Your official rules should always inform winners that they are liable for any and all taxes related to accepting the prize.

Sweepstakes Laws By State 

As we have mentioned already, each state has different laws for running sweepstakes. We have put together this guide with the help of this website to address all the localities of the U.S.  

There are also a few states you need to be aware of that have special exceptions to the typical state laws. The states that have the most prominent exceptions include 

(NOTE: links lead to state government resources):

Alabama Sweepstakes Official Rules

Alabama contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. 

Alaska Sweepstakes Official Rules

Alaska contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Arizona Sweepstakes Official Rules

Arizona contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Arkansas Sweepstakes Official Rules

Arkansas contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

California Sweepstakes Official Rules

California contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Colorado Sweepstakes Official Rules

In Colorado, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria. Outside of this, Colorado contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States

Connecticut Sweepstakes Official Rules

Connecticut contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Delaware Sweepstakes Official Rules

Delaware contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Florida Sweepstakes Official Rules

For sweepstakes offering prize values that exceed $5,000, these prizes must be bonded and registered 7 days prior to the start of the sweepstakes. In addition, sweepstakes are required to file a winners list with the state and provide it to anyone who requests it. Outside of this, Florida contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Georgia Sweepstakes Official Rules

Georgia contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Hawaii Sweepstakes Official Rules

Hawaii contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Idaho Sweepstakes Official Rules

Idaho contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Illinois Sweepstakes Official Rules

Illinois contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Indiana Sweepstakes Official Rules

Indiana contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Iowa Sweepstakes Official Rules

Iowa contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Kansas Sweepstakes Official Rules

Kansas contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Kentucky Sweepstakes Official Rules

Kentucky contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Louisiana Sweepstakes Official Rules

Louisiana contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Maine Sweepstakes Official Rules

Maine contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Maryland Sweepstakes Official Rules

In Maryland, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria. Outside of this, Maryland contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Massachusetts Sweepstakes Official Rules

Sweepstakes that are related to Tobacco are prohibited in Massachusetts. Outside of this, Massachusetts contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Michigan Sweepstakes Official Rules

In Michigan, asking entrants to visit a store is classified as consideration and is prohibited for sweepstakes. In addition, sweepstakes related to Tobacco are prohibited in Michigan. Outside of this, Michigan contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Minnesota Sweepstakes Official Rules

Minnesota contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Mississippi Sweepstakes Official Rules

Mississippi contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Missouri Sweepstakes Official Rules

Missouri contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Montana Sweepstakes Official Rules

Montana contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Nebraska Sweepstakes Official Rules

In Nebraska, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria. Outside of this, Nebraska contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Nevada Sweepstakes Official Rules

Nevada contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

New Hampshire Sweepstakes Official Rules

New Hampshire contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

New Jersey Sweepstakes Official Rules

New Jersey contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

New Mexico Sweepstakes Official Rules

New Mexico contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

New York Sweepstakes Official Rules

For sweepstakes offering prize values that exceed $5,000, these prizes must be bonded and registered 30 days prior to the start of the sweepstakes. In addition, sweepstakes are required to post a winners list. Outside of this, New York contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

North Carolina Sweepstakes Rules

North Carolina contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

North Dakota Sweepstakes Official Rules

In North Dakota, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria. Outside of this, North Dakota contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Ohio Sweepstakes Official Rules

Ohio contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Oklahoma Sweepstakes Official Rules

Oklahoma contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Oregon Sweepstakes Official Rules

Oregon contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Pennsylvania Sweepstakes Official Rules

Pennsylvania contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Rhode Island Sweepstakes Official Rules

In Rhode Island, any promotion that takes place within a retail location must register with the state if they offer a prize valued over $500. Even with an alternative means of entry, any promotion asking users to visit a store will need to be registered. Outside of this, Rhode Island contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

South Carolina Sweepstakes Official Rules

South Carolina contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

South Dakota Sweepstakes Official Rules

South Dakota contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Tennessee Sweepstakes Official Rules

Tennessee prohibits sweepstakes to require winners to submit a public release. Outside of this, Tennessee contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Texas Sweepstakes Official Rules

In Texas, any sweepstakes with a prize valued over $50,0000 is prohibited to automatically enter consumers into the promotion when purchases are made. Outside of this, Texas contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Utah Sweepstakes Official Rules

Utah contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Vermont Sweepstakes Official Rules

In Vermont, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria. In addition, sponsors cannot require consumers to pay for return postage if they request information about your promotion, such as a list of winners or a copy of the official rules. Outside of this, Vermont contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Virginia Sweepstakes Official Rules

In Virginia, asking entrants to visit a store is classified as consideration and is prohibited for sweepstakes. In addition, sweepstakes related to Tobacco are prohibited in Virginia. Outside of this, Virginia contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Washington Sweepstakes Official Rules

Washington contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

West Virginia Sweepstakes Official Rules

West Virginia contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Wisconsin Sweepstakes Official Rules

Wisconsin contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Wyoming Sweepstakes Official Rules

Wyoming contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

District of Columbia Official Rules

District of Columbia contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States.

Launching Your First Sweepstakes

We understand how confusing – and vast- the world of running a sweepstakes can be, and that’s why we created ViralSweep.  Our app is an immensely helpful solution to getting your first sweepstakes up and running successfully. 

We offer excellent support as you implement this new piece of technology in your online business. And we offer a 7-day free trial here: https://www.viralsweep.com/sweepstakes/.

Giancarlo is the co-founder of ViralSweep, the viral marketing platform for businesses. Connect with him on Twitter.
8 Comments
  1. Dmitriy

    thanks, I will use

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