Nice site. From what I could see, forum registration is free,
so essentially, you're good to go. What makes a drawing or
contest illegal in most states is when it costs money to
enter, which can include the purchase of a product. It then
becomes a lottery, which is illegal in Tennessee and other
states, and very regulated in all states.
A 'sweepstakes' is any procedure for distributing anything
of value by lot or chance. A sweepstakes must not violate
any provision of law, including the law that prohibits
lotteries, which simply means there must be no cost to the
Consumers often confuse sweepstakes, lotteries and contests.
The main difference between a sweepstakes and a lottery is
that the lottery participants have paid or promised to pay
a 'consideration' for the chance to win the prize.
The Tennessee Code can be found at the LexisNexis website,
and the section discussing consumer protection is the relevant
Tennessee Code : TITLE 47 COMMERCIAL INSTRUMENTS AND TRANSACTIONS
: CHAPTER 18 CONSUMER PROTECTION
Also see Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 5: Gambling, and Part 6:
Lotteries, though, again, these only apply if a cost is involved.
A good summary of Tennessee's pertinent laws is on the gambling-law-us
This page on the same site provides contact info for gaming agencies:
But all of that is irrelevant to you, as long as you're not charging
for registration, and participation is free. You still need to post
Rules for the drawing, and I've found some sites with posted Rules
which, by their similarities, should give you some good ideas for
what is required and useful. These are Tennessee sites:
A sweepstakes on bamah.com:
A sweepstakes on tunecom.com:
This results page on the Johnson's Baby Products site notes what
is also covered in other pages above:
"Under Tennessee law, Tennessee residents must provide written
consent before their names may be posted online."
General guidelines for constructing Rules can be found on the
SWEEPSTAKES AND SKILL CONTESTS ? THE BASICS, by Julia C. Archer, of
Enns & Archer LLP, a legal firm specializing in "the law of branded
products", who covers the essential inclusions in your Sweepstakes
- No purchase necessary.
- The alternative method of free participation.
- Complete name and address of the sponsor and promoter of the
- Number of prizes, the accurate description of each prize, the
retail value of each prize, and the odds of winning each type
of prize. (In many cases the odds will depend on the number of
eligible entries received, however, if a particular number of
entry forms, direct mail pieces, or similar items will be
distributed, the odds should be stated according to that number.)
- Geographic area of the sweepstakes and/or who is eligible to
participate in the sweepstakes.
- Opening date and scheduled termination date of the sweepstakes.
- Whether all prizes offered will be awarded, and how the prizes
will be awarded.
- Manner of selection of winners, and when a determination of
winners will be made.
- Where and when a list of winners can be obtained.
Another excellent overview on the topic, in an article titled
'How to Create Win-Win Sweepstakes on the Internet, Legally',
by Jonathan Ezor, is available on the following page on the
GigaLaw website, and covers all the bases for running a
legitimate and successful sweepstakes. He closes the article
with suggestions that include the possibility of retaining
legal counsel if it might be warranted:
"Remember that the larger your company, the more likely a
regulator will seek to impose liability. Have counsel
knowledgeable in advertising and promotions laws review
your original promotion rules and procedures, and get them
involved early on in any dispute (since they may have dealt
with the regulator before).
Take a look at your business liability insurance policy to
see what it provides for promotional liability, and put an
appropriate insurance and indemnification requirement in
any contract you sign with a third-party promotions manager.
If a mistake or misunderstanding in your rules or promotion
causes any public controversy, monitor online discussions to
catch any dissent and remember that the Web site you used to
run the promotion is a great forum for addressing any common
concerns among your users."
Much more on the page:
That should get you well on your way...
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A user's guide on this topic is on skermit-ga's site, here:
Additional information may be found from an exploration of
the links resulting from the Google searches outlined below.
Searches done, via Google:
"tennessee law" sweepstakes
"sweepstakes law" internet
"sweepstakes law" tennessee