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Contest, Giveaway, or Sweepstakes Laws By State

By Josh Ledgard

If you’ve decided to run a contest, giveaway or sweepstakes you’ll also want to make sure everything is above-the-board (and prevent any legal issues). In order to do that in the U.S. you’ll want to have a basic understanding of the laws in your state and the United States in general.

We’ll start with some basics and then discuss the specific states below.

Skip to laws by state.

Types of Giveaways in the U.S.

There are three different catagories of giveaways and it’s important that you use the name of the type of giveaway in the right way to avoid misunderstanding that could result in a legal issue later on. Read our complete post on the types of giveaways are contests, sweepstakes, and raffles.

Here is a recap of the different giveaway types.

Types of giveaways

General Laws in the U.S. For Giveaways

When running a giveaway, it’s important to know that lottery and gambling laws prohibit promoting any giveaway that has all three elements of prize, chance, and consideration. By U.S. rules, that is an illegal giveaway, and at least one of the three would have to be eliminated.

Federal anti-gambling laws apply to any giveaway or contest, especially if it’s conducted online. Overall, though, any contest or sweepstakes must declare the odds of winning, the date the winner will be selected, and other key details for transparency. Sweepstakes must not require a purchase to enter.

Learn more about general contest, sweepstakes, and giveaway laws in the U.S. and download our free terms and conditions template!

U.S.A. Giveaway Laws

And don’t forget our Best Practices for Making Contests Legal and Transparent.

Specific Laws by State

Some states have additional requirements or restrictions. If either your business or any of your entrants reside in these states, the following laws apply.

State by State Giveaway Laws

Alabama

Any sweepstakes involving alcohol must be pre-approved by the state’s alcohol control board. If your contest does not involve alcohol then you must simply comply with the general U.S. giveaway laws outline above.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Alaska

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general U.S. promotion law. Be sure to consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.

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Arizona

There are three things to consider in Arizona beyond the standard U.S. promotion laws.

  1. Skill-based contests that require a product purchase must be registered with the state’s Attorney General.
  2. Product prices must not be increased during the contest period.
  3. A list of winners must be sent to the state within 10 days of awarding the prize(s).

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Arkansas

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general U.S. promotion law.

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California

In California no sweepstakes or contest may require a purchase of any sort, including contest submission fees. Any sweepstakes or contest involving alcohol must not require entrants to visit a certain premise and must be open to all residents. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Colorado

No sweepstakes or contest may require a purchase of any sort, including contest submission fees. For mail-in events, entrants must receive detailed disclosures, e.g. that they have not yet won, that purchase is not required and will not increase their odds of winning, the value of the prize(s), and the chance of winning. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Connecticut

Skill-based contests are permitted to require a submission fee on a case-by-case basis. Check with your the gaming department in the state to clarify if your contest is allowed to require a fee. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

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Delaware

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Florida

Prizes worth at least $5,000 must be bonded and registered 7 days prior to the sweepstakes’ opening date. The list of winners must be provided to anyone who requests it. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

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Georgia

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Hawaii

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Idaho

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Illinois

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Indiana

Any sweepstakes involving alcohol must be pre-approved by the state’s alcohol control board. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Iowa

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Kansas

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Kentucky

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

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Louisiana

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Maine

Any sweepstakes and contests open to minors may not collect health or personal information without consent from a parent or legal guardian. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

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Maryland

No skill-based contest may require a purchase of any sort, including contest submission fees. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Massachusetts

No sweepstakes or contest may include tobacco-related activities or prizes. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Michigan

Sweepstakes must not require entrants to enter a store (assuming entrants haven’t otherwise visited the location to make a purchase or attend a sales presentation). Distributing entry forms solely in-store constitutes consideration. No sweepstakes or contest may include tobacco-related activities or prizes. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Minnesota

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Mississippi

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Missouri

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Montana

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Nebraska

No sweepstakes or contest may require a purchase of any sort, including contest submission fees. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Nevada

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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New Hampshire

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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New Jersey

No sweepstakes or contest may require a purchase of any sort, including contest submission fees. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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New Mexico

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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New York

Prizes worth at least $5,000 must be bonded and registered 30 days prior to the sweepstakes’ opening date. The list of winners must be provided to anyone who requests it, as well as registered with the state. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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North Carolina

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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North Dakota

No skills-based contest may require a purchase of any sort, including contest submission fees. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Ohio

Sweepstakes must not require entrants to enter a store (assuming entrants haven’t otherwise visited the location to make a purchase or attend a sales presentation). Distributing entry forms solely in-store constitutes consideration. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Oklahoma

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Oregon

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Pennsylvania

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Rhode Island

Retail businesses running sweepstakes with a total prize pool worth more than $500 must register their campaign with the state. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

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South Carolina

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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South Dakota

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Tennessee

Sweepstakes winners must not be required to accept publicity releases in perpetuity. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Texas

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Utah

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Vermont

No sweepstakes or contest may require a purchase of any sort, including contest submission fees. Those who request a list of sweepstakes winners must not be required to pay for postage. Any sweepstakes involving alcohol must be pre-approved by the state’s alcohol control board. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Virginia

Entrants must not be required to visit a specific location in order to enter. No sweepstakes or contest may include tobacco-related activities or prizes. General U.S. promotion laws apply after that.

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Washington

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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West Virginia

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Wisconsin

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Wyoming

Contests and sweepstakes are subject to general promotion law. (Consult your legal advisor and/or reach out to the state’s relevant department.)

Learn more about general giveaway laws in the U.S. and get our free contest rules template!

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Wrapping Up

We hope you found this article helpful. Remember, these are basic guidelines, and you should always consult with an attorney or other legal advisor when developing your contest or sweepstakes. It’s better to do your homework and ensure full compliance than to launch with potential legal issues lurking!

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