Guide To Understanding Sweepstakes Rules

Ask anyone why they haven’t jumped on the bandwagon and started entering sweepstakes online, and they will probably tell you it is because of the daunting sweepstakes entry rules. Online sweepstakes often contain a massive list of rules and regulations. Everyone who enters a particular online sweepstakes is required to agree to these rules and regulations, and when you don’t understand what they are asking it can be intimidating.

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If you have always wanted to try your luck at winning an online sweepstake for cash prizes, but were afraid of the confusing rules…fear not!  We have gathered a list of what we think are the most important terms you need to understand so that you can breeze through your next sweepstakes entry with a clear mind.

Promotion Period

Most often found right at the top of the sweepstakes rules, the Promotion Period defines when the sweepstakes begins and the sweepstakes deadline date.  If you’ve ever taken the time to enter an online sweepstakes, you probably assumed that it was still running.  But you would be surprised.    Some sites don’t bother to take down a sweepstakes page after the prize winner has been selected so it’s probably worth the time to look up the sweepstakes Promotion Period and make sure it’s still accepting entries.

Sweepstakes Entry Requirements

It’s a good idea to make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements for the sweepstakes and have submitted all the necessary information.  Most online sweepstakes forms list the information you need to supply in order to be eligible and include some basic information such as your email, first and last name and probably your street address all of which help them contact you if your picked as the winner. Of course, using a fake name or address makes it almost impossible to find you and in most cases will disqualify you in the event you are picked as the winner.

However, the two most important requirements that aren’t always that obvious are your age and your location.

Some sweepstakes will allow people as young as 13 to enter but the vast majority of sweepstakes require that you be at least 18 years of age or older.  As long as you’re over 18, you’re probably fine so then you just have to worry about where you live.  Sweepstakes laws can vary widely by country and even between states.  To avoid having to make different versions of a sweepstakes for different jurisdictions, sweepstakes sponsors will often list certain states or countries where the sweepstakes is not valid.  If you’re worried, just make sure you don’t live there before you take the time to enter the sweepstakes.

Cash Option

We could probably devote a whole separate post to discussing the relative merits of choosing the advertised prize vs. cash if you’re selected the sweepstakes winner….and we probably will.  But for now, the most important thing to look for in the sweepstakes rules is making sure the sweepstakes sponsor offers a cash option.

Why?  Because in most countries, sweepstakes prizes are considered income.  So while you might love to drive off in a new Porche, keep in mind that the government will be looking to collect taxes on the value of the car.  Consequently, a lot of sweepstakes winners decide to take the prize in cash instead of the card, and use a portion of the prize money to pay the taxes.  Don’t worry, you still keep most of the money and can probably buy yourself a new car with the winnings and still have some left over.

Your Name in Lights

A vast majority of the online sweepstake websites require that entrants agree to allow their name, image and likeness to appear on the website should they win a prize. Online sweepstake websites like to list past sweepstakes winners in an effort to generate buzz and excitement about their current contests. For example, RewardIt has a list of past winners and their prizes. All these winners agreed to have their name posted when they entered the contest.

The Most Important Rule of All!

You can’t win if you don’t enter! 

Or as my old basketball coach used to tell me, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take :).

We agree that sweepstakes rules are cumbersome and can be time consuming but we don’t want that to miss out on a chance to win.  So hopefully we save you some anxiety and a little time by highlighting the most important aspects of most sweepstakes rules.

If you’re still worried, just let ask us and we’ll help in any way we can.