Contest And Sweepstakes Laws Around The World Are Complicated
Written by George Manty · December 21, 2007
Several people have asked me why our 500 dollar contest/giveaway was only for US citizens. Well, here’s the deal…
Contest And Sweepstakes Laws Are Complicated
It’s hard enough to comply with US laws regarding contests but having to comply with the laws of every country in the world is pretty close to impossible. US laws are fairly difficult to comply with. If you don’t believe me, just read this article on US contest law.
Big US Companies Don’t Even Try It
You would think the lawyers for big companies would be able to draft up contest/sweepstakes rules that would comply with international laws, but you would be wrong…
Most US based companies restrict their contests to the United States. Here are some of the things that US companies have said about this.
The Discovery Channel says:
Different rules and regulations associated with games of chance in other countries make it difficult to administer sweepstakes and games outside the United States.
We certainly understand that Star Trek fandom is not limited by national boundaries. We know there are millions of fans around the world just in the United States and we regret not being able to allow everyone to participate in our giveaways.
In order for us to hold a giveaway or sweepstakes on our site we must comply with the legal requirements in every territory in which the contest is available (on the Web, this means virtually the entire planet). However, it is simply beyond the scope of our group to comply with contest laws around the world. Thus, our posted rules satisfy the requirements for U.S. participants only.
When Canada and other countries simplify their requirements for on-line contests, we will be able to allow our giveaways to cross international borders.
An Example Of The Difficulty Of Complying With Other Countries Laws
Read this story (and the comments). Essentially, in order to open a contest up to Canadian residents, Starbucks had to add the following clause to their contest rules:
If a resident of Canada is selected as a winner, they will be required to correctly answer, without assistance of any kind, whether mechanical or otherwise, a timed, mathematical skill-testing question, to be administered by Marden- Kane, Inc. either by mail, telephone, e-mail, or fax (at its sole discretion) before the awarding of the prize.
The reason for this is that according to some Canadian law you can’t run a sweepstakes/contest that just gives away money (like our contest). In order to comply with Canadian law I would need to give the “winner” a test of skill. If I wanted to open the contest to every country imagine how difficult it would be to comply with ALL the contest laws around the world?
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that I don’t want to lose my business because of a sweepstakes or contest. I am very sorry for the inconvenience. I wish that international contest laws weren’t so complicated and I will try to find a way to reward all my readers in some other way.