Abbreviated sweepstakes rules: Don’t give them short shrift

by Thompson Coburn LLP
Contact

You couldn’t live in the United States very long without at some point seeing abbreviated rules for a sweepstakes. They are usually found in the fine print at the bottom of an ad, sign, email message, bottle top, or banner, and almost always begin with the words “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.” You may also hear them sputtered rapidly at the end of a radio contest ad.

Abbreviated rules are required by several states’ statutes. For example, Florida law requires that the sweepstakes “material terms” must be included in any advertising copy promoting the sweepstakes. “Material terms” in Florida has been identified as:

  • - Name of the operator and game promotion.
  • - Start and end dates for entering the promotion (including times, if applicable) consistent with the official rules.
  • - A list of who is eligible or not eligible to participate with respect to age or geographic location.
  • - Disclosure of where the promotion is void.
  • - A statement that no purchase is necessary to enter or play the game promotion.

There is also a federal law, the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act, which requires that any advertisement of a sweepstakes sent by mail must disclose the following in any solicitation material, the entry or order form, and in the official rules:

  • A statement that “no purchase is necessary.” This statement must be disclosed “clearly and conspicuously,” that is “presented in a manner that is readily noticeable, readable, and understandable to the group to whom the applicable matter is disseminated.
  • A statement that “a purchase will not improve one’s chances of winning.” This statement must also be clear and conspicuous.
  • A clear and conspicuous disclosure of the name of the sponsor or mailer and the principal place of business or contact address.
  • A clear and conspicuous disclosure of the location of the official rules and entry procedures

The main problem with abbreviated rules is that sometimes you don’t have the space in the ad, sign or bottle cap that allows you to include all of the information that would normally be disclosed. Reducing the size of the font used in the abbreviated rules is not a viable answer in most situations; most statutes require written rules to appear at a size that is “clear and conspicuous” in the ad.

One common solution is to abbreviate the standard language used in the rules. For example, “sweepstakes ends on June 31, 2014” is often reduced to “ends 6/31/14.” Here are the ways in which abbreviated rules often are reduced to accommodate the space or time restrictions of the particular media being used.

Original phrase

Common abbreviation

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. (A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING)

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY

Must be a legal resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia

Legal resident of the U.S.

Sweepstakes begins at 11:59 p.m. EST on June 1, 2013 and ends at 12:00 p.m. EST on June 30, 2013

Sweepstakes begins on 6/1/13 and ends 6/30/13

To enter must be 18 years or older

At least 18

An option for television spots is to present the disclaimer printed on a screen during the commercial. However, it is often difficult for the text to be clear and conspicuous without sacrificing a considerable amount of time to the message.

When shortening abbreviated rules, you need to be aware of certain specific requirements contained in federal and state regulations, such as the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act, as well as state statutes such as Colorado’s Common Consumer Disclosure Requirements.

Knowing how much is enough when preparing abbreviated rules can be challenging. That is why you should consult an attorney experienced in this area of law before over-abbreviating abbreviated rules.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Thompson Coburn LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Thompson Coburn LLP
Contact
more
less

Thompson Coburn LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!