Online Sweepstakes, Games, & Contests: Navigating Legal Issues and Pitfalls

Online sweepstakes, games, and contests have become increasingly popular thanks to the widespread use of social media and iOS applications. Companies, however, often overlook the need to include proper documentation and guidelines required by state or federal laws and regulations. Moreover, today’s new technology often allows for web/app users to submit cloned entries or otherwise circumvent online rules. Likewise, the collection of personal information for sweepstakes, online games, and contests may trigger a variety of entirely different legal issues, often unbeknownst to the host company. Care should be taken before launching new sweepstakes, games, or online contests.

One of the biggest challenges with online sweepstakes and games is the state-by-state differences in rules and regulations. Before launching a new sweepstake, online contest, or game, the host should verify that it complies with the laws in every state where it is made available. This often requires an analysis of the laws of each state since many sweepstakes, games, and contests are made available to residents of all 50 states given the nature of the Internet and iOS/Android applications. Some states require registration for certain kinds of contests.

In addition to state laws, hosts of online games need to verify compliance with federal regulations and laws such as the Children Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), and similar privacy laws. Given the global nature of the Internet, attention should be given to whether compliance with foreign laws is needed or whether access to the Internet sweepstake, game, or contest is limited to US participants. The laws of European countries, for example, provide for more stringent privacy restrictions than US ecommerce law.

While companies may be able to achieve compliance with state and federal regulations on their own, retaining an ecommerce attorney is advisable due to the complexity of the legal landscape. The first step is to evaluate the associated promotional material and online rules to ensure no violations of federal and state laws, including online privacy laws. Next, the ecommerce attorney will likely analyze the entire framework of the contest, game, or sweepstake to ensure overall compliance with both state and federal law as it applies to the client. As mentioned, this may require registration in certain states and posting bonds. Lastly, the attorney will draft overall guidelines as a reference for use with any future promotions. These guidelines can be used to reduce costs for future online sweepstakes, contests, and games.

Disclaimer – As with any discussion of legal topics, this article is intended to be educational only, and is not a substitute for legal advice, nor does it provide legal advice or form an attorney-client relationship with the reader. Please seek legal counsel before making any decisions. Also, please note that this article will likely not be updated, so the law and circumstances may have changed by the time you have read this article.

It Pays to Find Lawyers Who Can Assist You With Handling Complex Legal Issues

It is a good idea to find lawyers that can help you with complex legal issues or even to handle cases involving lots of money. Most people do not have the legal expertise or knowledge to deal with the legal aspects of complex laws and so it is better for them to hire a good lawyer who can be entrusted to deal with all the different legal issues. Good lawyers are able to offer strategic tips and advice and can also make use of sophisticated techniques with which to handle all kinds of legal issues.

As you start your search for a lawyer, you will do well to keep in mind that it always pays to deal with a lawyer that is willing to act as your legal coach and in addition, it pays to be well educated about the law so that when the time comes to find lawyers, you know what questions to ask and you will also be equipped to evaluate different lawyers.

In order to find lawyers that will provide you sound legal advice you must do more than simply refer to your phone book to find your lawyer. It would be far better to first of all ask around for referrals which are the best way to find someone suitable. However, even if someone recommends a lawyer to you, you should not just go by these recommendations. You have to use certain yardsticks with which to measure the lawyers credentials.

It is also a good idea to look for lawyers that specialize in a particular field, and more particularly in the kind of case that you plan on filing. It also helps if you conduct an interview of a few possible contenders so that you can find out for yourself whether or not they are suitable for taking up your case.

Be sure to look at the lawyers personality and be sure to pick a lawyer with whom you share a good personal chemistry. In addition, make sure that you judge the lawyer according to the promptness with which they respond to you. A good lawyer is also one that will be willing to work with you.

In case you plan on representing yourself and only need to find lawyers so that they can offer you advice, then be sure to pick a lawyer that is willing to work with you in this manner. The same is the case for those people that plan on getting a business going and who need a lawyer to help them draft bye laws and business agreements. It is necessary to make all your requirements known to the lawyer before hiring them.