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Experience Dedication Judgment Value Reliability Intelligence Diversity

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Sweepstakes Laws

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The Legal Pitfalls of Game Promotion Marketing

The growth of the Internet has made sweepstakes, contests and other types of game promotions a popular way for companies to promote their products and services while, at the same time, gather valuable information about their customers.  This growth has led to a corresponding interest by government agencies to regulate these activities, presumably for the sake of protecting consumers from dishonest and negligent promoters.  In the United States today, there exist numerous anti-lottery laws and other legislation attempting to regulate game promotions at the federal and state level, plus a practically unknowable amount of applicable local laws and case precedent. 

Government regulation is not the only challenge to running a successful sweepstakes, contest or other game promotion.  By copying and pasting rules from the Internet, or using third party trademarks or other material without permission, some promoters are exposing clients, sponsors and themselves to potential intellectual property violations.   By launching these promotions and putting infringing material on the world-wide web, such promoters are just one Google search away from a potential lawsuit. 

As if the other pitfalls weren't enough, by far the biggest potential liability of running a game promotion comes from the participants themselves.  Whether it's a loophole in the game mechanics, a slight omission in the rules, the improper use of personal information, problems contacting a winner, or an injury while using the prize, the list of possible problems is endless.  Such problems will usually directly affect (or come to the attention of) a participant, registrant or winner.  The result can be embarrassing at best and, at worst, can lead to costly legal claims. 

Given these complications, there can be no such thing as a risk-free game promotion.  However, with the assistance of advertising professionals and knowledgeable legal counsel, game promoters can certainly protect themselves from the most likely sources of liability and, by doing so, immensely reduce their risk. 

Who We Are

The Business and Real Estate Law Group is a law firm offering advice and representation to its clients in a number of specialties including advertising, marketing, internet, ecommerce, technology and intellectual property.  One of our primary practice areas is helping clients navigate the laws and liability associated with sweepstakes, contests, and game promotion marketing.  In fact, over the past thirteen years, our expert attorney has assisted dozens of advertising agencies, Fortune 500 companies and small businesses with their online and offline promotions. 

How We Can Help

We are attorneys-- not consultants, marketers, fulfillment experts, salespersons or advertising professionals.  By focusing our efforts on legal compliance and risk avoidance, we allow our clients to focus theirs on creating effective game promotions that sell products and collect good information.   Sponsors and advertisers can sleep easier knowing that their legal bases are covered.  Advertising agencies and intermediaries can deliver a higher level of service and value to their clients.  If something goes wrong, clients have us immediately available to provide additional guidance and representation without having to shop around for advice. 

Specifically, our services for a typical game promotion  include the following:

  • An initial compliance review of the mechanics of the promotion. This ensures that the promotion complies with numerous federal and state laws regarding game promotions, illegal lotteries, anti-spam legislation, privacy protection, registration and bonding, etc.
  • As needed, we work with insurers and government agencies to make sure the sweepstakes, contest or game promotion is properly registered, bonded and meets all necessary requirements.
  • Drafting of the sweepstakes, contest or game promotion rules. Our game promotion attorney is fully bilingual and rules can be provided in Spanish (or any other language).
  • Provide a waiver and release form for winners to sign. This helps protect agencies, game administrators and sponsors from any liability in connection with the promotion.
  • A second compliance review of the website, advertisements and any other material associated with the promotion to ensure that all legal recommendations and requirements are being carried out.
  • Assist clients with other legal issues associated with the promotion such as conducting drawings, redemption of prizes, taxation of prizes, viral marketing compliance, infringement issues, overseas promotions, reporting requirements, contacting regulators, resolving disputes, etc.
  • Services are provided for both online and offline promotions in English, Spanish or any other language.

Sweepstakes, contest and game promotion services are generally provided for a flat-fee that is quoted at the very beginning of the process. The amount of the fee will depend on the mechanics, complexity and legal requirements specific to the promotion. To find out how to obtain a quote for your promotion, please call us at 1-800-398-6795 or email us.