Florida has updated its sweepstakes law which was designed to clarify that games of chance may be operated by commercial entities only on a “limited and occasional basis” as a marketing tool incidental to the sale of a product or service.

The changes to the Game Promotion Statute took effect April 10. Game promotions are defined as games of chance that are conducted by for-profit commercial entities on a limited and occasional basis as an advertising and marketing tool and are incidental to bona fide sales of consumer products or services. Operators of “game promotions” are subject to the requirements of the new Florida law. They must be bonded and registered if the total prize package exceeds $5,000, they must provide a winner’s list to the state, and they cannot have a pre-selected winner format, to name just a few requirements.

Not-for-profit entities cannot conduct “game promotions” as they do not generally sell goods or services. However, they can otherwise conduct a sweepstakes provided it complies with Florida lottery and charitable promotion laws. By way of example, nothing would prevent the American Cancer Society from conducting a fundraising sweepstakes with a free method of entry. The sweepstakes would not be a “ game promotion” and is therefore exempt from the game promotion law requirements. But it would be lawful under Florida lottery laws.

A modified definition of an “operator” of a game promotion now includes a “retailer who operates a game promotion or any person, firm, corporation, organization, or association or agent or employee thereof who promotes, operates, or conducts a nationally advertised game promotion.”

In addition, the updated law applies to retailers who operate game promotions on a local basis as well as those who operate a game of chance both in and out of the state.

The revisions did not change the penalties for violations of the law but did add that a violation also constitutes an unfair trade practice under Florida law. A violation of the Game Promotion Law can result in a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation as well as an injunction, and referral for criminal prosecution is also available if appropriate.

To read the Game Promotion Statute, click here.

Why it matters: National companies operating a sweepstakes in Florida as well as local entities should review the updated law to ensure compliance with the new requirements as well as the prior regulations. For example, all advertising copy must include the material terms of the rules, which must also be posted in all outlets. Operators must also meet state requirements to file with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.