Laws and Rules for Sweepstakes in Utah
First, it helps to understand the difference between a sweepstakes, contest and lottery. In a sweepstakes, winners are chosen randomly from all participants. In a contest, the winners’ entries are usually judged and are based on a skill or criteria. In a lottery, winners are chosen at random, but in order to enter, the participant must pay. A payment is called a consideration. Only states can hold lotteries, so all private lotteries are illegal.
To avoid being classified as an illegal lottery in any state, your promotion can only have 2 of these 3 elements: prize, chance and consideration. Keep in mind, consideration can mean anything of value, including a fee or even a significant effort (i.e., time spent shooting/submitting a photo, etc.)
Here are possible combinations:
- Prize + consideration + chance = illegal lottery or gambling
- Prize + consideration = legal contest (in most jurisdictions)
- Prize + chance = legal sweepstakes
All sweepstakes in the United States must meet the following regulations:
- No purchase necessary. You can enter the sweepstakes without buying a product or service.
- Winners are required to pay taxes on prizes they win.
Sweepstakes are regulated nationally and by state by the following organizations:
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- United States Postal Service (USPS)
- United States Department of Justice (DOJ)
State Specific Sweepstakes & Contest Laws
Besides federal considerations, every state has its own specifics laws regarding sweepstakes and contests.
If awarding a prize in Utah, the winner must claim it within 30 days after the sweepstakes ends.
Contests: are allowed as long as the sponsor awards the prize based on skill and not chance.
Sweepstakes: are allowed as long as the sponsor awards the prize based on chance.
Prize Promotion Laws - Utah Notices Regulation Act
- Utah defines a prize notice as a communication to an individual that represents that he or she may be selected to receive a prize and if there is a condition of payment or donation or the individual is invited to contact the company or find out more about the prize placement.
- Prize notice disclosures have specific placement, font and language required in Utah.
- In Utah, if a sponsor represents that a person has won or may win a prize, the sponsor must provide a written prize notice to the participant or winner before receiving any payment.
- In Utah, if a sponsor offers a prize as an incentive for their participants to see, hear, or attend the sales presentation, the presentation can’t begin until the sponsor tells the participant of the prize and awards it.
- It's good practice to have a prize notice or Official Rules as part of any sweepstakes and contests in Utah or any other state.
Legal Review Criteria: Dominant Factor Doctrine when assessing whether or not chance determines the outcome of a promotion.
Note: the information above is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Sweepstakes and Contest promotional laws change and the above may not reflect the must current laws.