Age Doesn’t Matter Except When it Does

Marx once remarked, “Age is not a particularly interesting subject.  Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.”  Well, thanks Groucho, for that word of advice, but let’s look anyway into the importance of age in sweepstakes.

Minimum Ages

13 or older:

If the promotion is online and is directed to a child or will collect information from a child, it needs to be 13 or older, unless you want to comply with the requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). (more…)

Sweepstakes Rules: How Much Is Too Much?

William J. Shakespeare recognized over more than 400 years ago in As You Like It that, “Excess may do you harm.”  This may still hold true today for sweepstakes and contest Official Rules.

The internet has allowed Official Rules to be as long as a lawyer’s imagination.  But don’t shoot yourself in the foot when you try to bulletproof your rules.   Boilerplate language, “take it or leave” contracts and heavy-handed, one-sided provisions could be unconscionable and unenforceable.  According to the New York Court of Appeals, “unconscionability … requires some showing of ‘an absence of meaningful choice on the part of one of the parties together with contract terms which are unreasonably favorable to the other party.’” State v. Avco Fin. Servs. of N.Y., 50 N.Y.2d 383 (1980).  Sounds like Official Rules.

Context is important. (more…)

You Can’t Do That (Strange But True Illegal Contests)

We all know that promotions involving such things as dairy, gasoline, and cigarettes are illegal in some states, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll learn that a red flag should go off if, for instance, a sponsor wants to run a dance marathon/kissing contest next Valentine’s Day.  Below is a list of (mostly) useless, but I hope, amusing state laws restricting certain contests.

California:  No frog-jumping contests.  Calif. Fish & Game Code, §6883.  Actually, frog-jumping contests are o.k., as long as Kermit isn’t eaten if he dies during the competition.  (I’m serious.)  To be safe, I’d recommend the conservative approach and simply avoid this contest in California, because you just never know. (more…)

Vacation Sweepstakes Edition (The More You Give, The Less You May Get)

It’s summer vacation time and what better way to spend it then basking in the sun after winning that all-expense-paid prize trip.  Or is it?

Sponsors want to create buzz for their sweepstakes.  And vacation prizes over the summer months may do just that.  In my unofficial count, there are about 150 vacation sweepstakes currently running by major brands for trips to Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, Disney World, Miami, Las Vegas, NYC and even Cincinnati.  But Caveat Sponsus, awarding a dream vacation could be a nightmare.

Issues and solutions when offering vacation prizes: (more…)

Where’s the Beef? Selling Internet Time Could Get You Time (The Sweepstakes Legitimate Product Requirement)

In 1984, Clara Peller, when opening a bun and finding only a tiny burger, first asked the famous line, “Where’s the beef?” This question is still relevant today in sweepstakes world. Even if you have an AMOE, when you provide entries for purchasing a product, it better be a hamburger and not just the aroma.

This week an attorney was reinstated to the Florida Bar after four years and having been convicted (which was later overturned and remanded) of various crimes for advising a client on the legality of running a “sweepstakes” involving internet cafés selling “internet time” to its customers who then received entries which simulated popular casino-style games to reveal whether the customer won a prize.  (more…)

Commercial Co-Ventures What a Charity Needs to Know

Yay!  Big brand wants to team up and donate part of the purchase price of its sales to your charity.  Do you just have to sit back and watch the money come pouring in?

Procedurally, no; substantively, (mostly) yes.  Even though the “work” in a commercial co-venture may be done primarily by the commercial company in terms of registrations and actual product selling, a charity has a number of its own obligations that cannot be ignored.

A short primer:  Buy this + we donate that = commercial co-venture.  Simple. (more…)