Sweep-stakes [sweep-steyks] – noun.
“A sweepstakes is a legal contest or game where anything of value is distributed by lot or chance.” (from USLegal.com)
It is a self-funded promotion that offers a chance for participants to win. Winning sweepstakes entries are selected from a finite pool of entries. A Sweepstakes Internet Cafe is a business that uses sweepstakes promotions to market a product (frequently Internet time). Customers enter the Internet Cafe, purchase Internet access time, and are given free sweepstakes entries. The customers then surf the Internet and/or use computer terminals to reveal, in a very entertaining way, whether or not the free entries they received are winning entries.
Sweepstakes entries must be given away for free upon the purchase of a product (which can include goods, services, or intangible products). Thus, sweepstakes promotions are used to increase sales of that product.
Generally sweepstakes laws require a free, alternative method of entry into the sweepstakes as well. The McDonald’s Monopoly Game, for example, requires participants to mail in a self-addressed envelope to obtain a free entry.
It is critical to understand that the method used to reveal the sweepstakes entries and the way in which the results are displayed to the participant DOES NOT MATTER as long as it does not affect the results. McDonalds uses a Monopoly game wherein participants collect game pieces over time and stick them to a game board. Coca-Cola prints a number on the bottom of its bottle caps that participants must enter into a website on the Internet from their computer to participate in a simulated “Wheel of Fortune” game.
The results of the sweepstakes can be delivered or conveyed in ANY way. It doesn’t matter if the results are revealed by using a board game simulation (McDonalds), a computer website simulating a casino (Coca-Cola), a singing telegram, or a carrier pigeon! The method of displaying results does NOT affect the legality of the sweepstakes.
Some of the games used to reveal sweepstakes entry results on our sweepstakes platform resemble slot machines or have keno or poker themes. Consequently, participants may feel like they are actually playing casino games. Although sweepstakes games can resemble gambling (just like Coke’s simulated roulette), those that follow sweepstakes rules properly are legitimate, perfectly legal, and are definitively NOT gambling.