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Sweepstakes and Contests: Drafting Rules and Procedures to Avoid Liability and Loss

Statutory and Regulatory Compliance; Litigation

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will prepare corporate counsel for the quagmire that is the law of sweepstakes and contests. A "free giveaway" carries legal risks, numerous and varied sources of law govern the practice and an innumerable amount of "contestants" and counsel are eager to sue over alleged rules violations or other mishaps. Counsel must be aware of the traps and how to avoid them.


An ever-increasing number of companies are using sweepstakes, contests, and similar promotions to attract customers. The phrase "no purchase necessary to win" – that is, the potential to get free stuff - dances in the heads of consumers, and there are many websites devoted to identifying opportunities to win free prizes. Attorneys lie in wait for these consumers, and other entrants, to detect noncompliance with applicable law and are more than willing to start a "litigation sweepstakes" of their own.

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to both state and federal law. Counsel must understand unfair generic trade or consumer protection statutes, a specific statute on contests, or even common law contract or fraud theories. Some plaintiffs challenge the legality of promotions, claiming them to be illegal lotteries.

To implement legally compliant sweepstakes or contests, a company must draft rules, make those rules available, and comply with those rules. Further, the company must ensure that all of its materials (not just the rules) make required references and disclosures. Detailed steps concerning receiving and selecting entries must be implemented and followed. A contest that unintentionally ends with multiple winners, even without any apparent violation of rules, exposes a company to legal risk.

Listen as this panel of experienced contest and sweepstakes attorneys provides detailed guidance as to the right and wrong ways to implement these useful marketing tools.



  1. Legal background
    1. Federal statutory/regulatory
    2. State statutory/regulatory
    3. Common law considerations
  2. Compliance steps
    1. Documentation
    2. Detailed rules (content and availability)
    3. Entry documents
    4. Advertisements
  3. Procedure
    1. Entries
    2. Selection
  4. Liability considerations
    1. Challenges to compliance
    2. Liability for mistakes (e.g., multiple winners of one prize)
    3. Insurance coverage


The panel will review these and other critical issues:

  • What types of promotions a company can run
  • The sources and contents of applicable law
  • What steps are necessary to comply with the law (i.e., the drafting of rules)
  • Who can sue, and for what


Benjamin, Barry
Barry M. Benjamin

Partner; Chair Advertising and Marketing Group
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton

Mr. Benjamin’s practice focuses on advertising, privacy, and technology transactions, in areas where traditional...  |  Read More

Huffman, Brandon
Brandon J. Huffman

Odin Law & Media

Mr. Huffman is an attorney focused on representing technology and media clients in business, intellectual property,...  |  Read More

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