Laws regulating social media contests and sweepstakes vary widely depending where you are. Businesses must not encourage entrants to violate intellectual property laws. There are registration rules, tax filing requirements, and administration regulations. Many questions include, will there be objective judging or a random winner? Is purchase required or are there alternative methods of entry? What are the rules for contests and sweepstakes on the social media platform? Twitter allows them. Facebook has restrictions. Google+ bans them but allows links to them. Email is also a platform that is regulated. For help figuring out what to do about these social media laws, see the Your Options page of this website.

Federal Law: 

  • Federal Criminal Lottery Act
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • Federal Trade Commission: It is an unfair trade practice to: 
    • misrepresent the nature of a contest, the odds of winning
    • misrepresent the nature of or manner of awarding the prize
    • a sales scheme cannot be advertised as a "contest"
    • the value of a prize cannot be valued greatly in excess of the usual price charged for it
    • cash prizes cannot be promised unless they are actually given
    • prizes cannot be distributed without regard to the contest rules
  • Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act: Gives the Postal Authority significant power to enforce rules designed to prevent deception. Requires clear and conspicuous disclosure in sweepstakes mailings:
    • That no purchase is necessary.
    • That purchase will not improve [one's] chances of winning.
    • Name of the sponsor or mailer and the principal place of business or contact address
    • Official rules and entry procedures
    • Estimated odds of winning each prize
    • Quantity, estimated retail value, and nature of each prize
    • Schedule of prize payments, if it is to be made over time.
  • Prohibits any representation in sweepstakes mailings that:
    • Individuals who do not purchase products or services may be disqualified from receiving future sweepstakes mailings
    • An individual purchase a product or service previously ordered as a condition of entering the sweepstakes
    • An individual is a prize winner, unless true
    • Contradicts or is inconsistent with sweepstakes rules or any other disclosures required under the law
  • Requires clear and conspicuous disclosures for mailings containing skill contest materials of:
    • Name of the sponsor or mailer and the principal place of business or contact address
    • Official rules and entry procedures
    • Number of rounds or levels of the contest and the cost to enter each round or level; that subsequent rounds or levels are more difficult, if applicable; the maximum cost to enter all rounds or levels; the estimated number or percentage of entrants who may correctly solve the skill contest or the approximate number or percentage of entrants correctly solving the past three skill contests conducted by the sponsor; the identity or description of the qualifications of the judges; the method used in judging; the date the winners will be determined and the date prizes will be awarded; the quantity, estimated retail value, and nature of each prize; and the schedule of any payments made over time.
  • Also requires sponsors to establish a name removal notification system permitting individuals to have their name and address removed from mailing lists.
  • CAN-SPAM Act establishes requirements for email commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have a sponsor stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. The FTC has written a compliance guide that should be followed.

State Laws are not preempted by, and often differ from, the federal rules. 

  • Some states, like Florida, New York and Rhode Island, have registration requirements for contests. 
  • Some require bonds to be posted and some regulate what can be awarded as a prize.

​​For more options, see the Your Options page of this website.   

social media Sweepstakes & Contest Laws

keeping you and your family safe

All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Ninomiya Law, PLLC and Kent Ninomiya only provide legal advice to clients when there is a valid engagement agreement signed by both attorney and clients. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.