Contests and sweepstakes are great strategies to engage with your audience and reach your marketing goals. In the United States, it’s important to understand federal and state laws when preparing to run a contest or sweepstakes.

Please note, this guide is not a substitute for legal advice, nor does this list determine if your promotion is in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws. We strongly suggest consulting with our legal services to draft and review your official rules and policies before launching a promotion.

Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States

One of the first steps in administering a legally compliant sweepstakes or contest is to understand the difference between the two types of promotions.

Sweepstakes are games of chance, where winners are chosen at random. Contests rely more on skill, and winners are typically chosen upon fulfilling certain criteria.

In the United States, there are no purchase necessary laws involved with sweepstakes and contests. These laws forbid you from requiring users to make purchases or take other means of consideration to enter a sweepstakes or contests.

Consideration typically includes asking entrants to take actions that require significant time, money, or effort. Consideration is tricky and can often constitute a contest or sweepstakes as an illegal lottery, putting the brand or sponsors at risk.

We’ve written a detailed guide that includes information about these parameters, in addition to other important United States laws and regulations including:

  • Official Rules
  • Social Media Compliance and Guidelines
  • Privacy Policy
  • Registration and Bonding of Prizes
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • No Purchase Necessary / Alternative Means of Entry
  • Promotional Detailing
  • Advertising and Abbreviated Rules
  • Affidavits and Releases
  • 1099 Forms & More

Official Rules should highlight important United States legal requirements including:

  • Alternative means of entry.
  • Announcing the start and end dates of your promotion.
  • Disclosure of how and when winners are selected.
  • Announcing when prizes will be distributed and awarded.
  • Winner contacting.
  • Fulfillment of prizes promised.

Contest & Sweepstakes Laws: Unique States

Some states have different exceptions or laws when regarding contest and sweepstakes regulations. The states that have the most prominent exceptions include (NOTE: links lead to state resources):

  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nebraska
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

Alabama Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Alabama contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Alabama has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Alaska Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Alaska contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Alaska has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Arizona Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Arizona contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Arizona has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Arkansas Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Arkansas contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Arkansas has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

California Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

California contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. California has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Colorado Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

In Colorado, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria.

Outside of this, Colorado contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Connecticut Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Connecticut contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Connecticut has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Delaware Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Delaware contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Delaware has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Florida Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

For sweepstakes offering prize values that exceed $5,000, these prizes must be bonded and registered 7 days prior to the start of the sweepstakes.

In addition, sweepstakes are required to file a winners list with the state and provide it to anyone who requests it.

Outside of this, Florida contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Georgia Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Georgia contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Georgia has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Hawaii Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Hawaii contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Hawaii has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Idaho Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Idaho contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Idaho has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Illinois Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Illinois contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Illinois has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Indiana Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Indiana contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Indiana has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Iowa Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Iowa contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Iowa has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Kansas Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Kansas contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Kansas has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Kentucky Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Kentucky contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Kentucky has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Louisiana Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Louisiana contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Louisiana has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Maine Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Maine contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Maine has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Maryland Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

In Maryland, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria.

Outside of this, Maryland contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Massachusetts Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Sweepstakes related to Tobacco are prohibited in Massachusetts.

Outside of this, Massachusetts contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Michigan Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

In Michigan, asking entrants to visit a store is classified as consideration and is prohibited for sweepstakes. In addition, sweepstakes related to Tobacco are prohibited in Michigan.

Outside of this, Michigan contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Minnesota Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Minnesota contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Minnesota has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Mississippi Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Mississippi contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Mississippi has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Missouri Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Missouri contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Missouri has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Montana Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Montana contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Montana has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Nebraska Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

In Nebraska, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria.

Outside of this, Nebraska contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Nevada Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Nevada contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Nevada has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

New Hampshire Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

New Hampshire contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. New Hampshire has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

New Jersey Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

New Jersey contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. New Jersey has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

New Mexico Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

New Mexico contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. New Mexico has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

New York Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

For sweepstakes offering prize values that exceed $5,000, these prizes must be bonded and registered 30 days prior to the start of the sweepstakes.

In addition, sweepstakes are required to post a winners list.

Outside of this, New York contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

North Carolina Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

North Carolina contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. North Carolina has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

North Dakota Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

In North Dakota, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria.

Outside of this, North Dakota contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Ohio Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Ohio contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Ohio has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Oklahoma Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Oklahoma contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Oklahoma has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Oregon Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Oregon contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Oregon has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Pennsylvania Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Pennsylvania contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Pennsylvania has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Rhode Island Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

In Rhode Island, any promotion that takes place within a retail location must register with the state if they offer a prize valued over $500. Even with an alternative means of entry, any promotion asking users to visit a store will need to be registered.

Outside of this, Rhode Island contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

South Carolina Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

South Carolina contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. South Carolina has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

South Dakota Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

South Dakota contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. South Dakota has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Tennessee Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Tennessee prohibits sweepstakes to require winners to submit a public release.

Outside of this, Tennessee contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Texas Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

In Texas, any sweepstakes with a prize valued over $50,0000 is prohibited to automatically enter consumers into the promotion when purchases are made.

Outside of this, Texas contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Utah Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Utah contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Utah has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Vermont Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

In Vermont, contests and sweepstakes are prohibited from requiring entrants to make a purchase or forms of consideration to enter a promotion. Most states allow purchase requirements within contests where winners are chosen based on skill or criteria.

In addition, sponsors cannot require consumers to pay for return postage if they request information about your promotion, such as a list of winners or a copy of the official rules.

Outside of this, Vermont contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Virginia Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

In Virginia, asking entrants to visit a store is classified as consideration and is prohibited for sweepstakes. In addition, sweepstakes related to Tobacco are prohibited in Virginia.

Outside of this, Virginia contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States, outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Washington Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Washington contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Washington has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

West Virginia Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

West Virginia contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. West Virginia has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Wisconsin Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Wisconsin contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Wisconsin has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

Wyoming Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

Wyoming contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. Wyoming has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.

District of Columbia Contest & Sweepstakes Laws

District of Columbia contests and sweepstakes are required to follow the same laws found throughout the United States. District of Columbia has no distinct difference from the contest and sweepstakes laws outlined in the Contests and Sweepstakes Laws in the United States section of this guide.