COVID-19 and Your Sweepstakes Prize: What To Do If You Can’t Deliver Your Prize to the Winner? How to Edit Official Rules

If you launched a sweepstakes prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are that your sweepstakes prize is undeliverable now thanks to travel restrictions and social distancing. The coronavirus crisis isn’t only affecting businesses in terms of sales, it’s also making it harder to administer and fulfill sweepstakes prizes.

If you are in the midst of a sweepstakes promotion or you were just about to launch a sweepstakes, here’s what you should do now.

Don’t Change the Rules If You’ve Already Launched Your Sweepstakes

If you have already launched your sweepstakes, don’t change your official rules. Not only is it a violation of the law if you’ve already registered and bonded your sweepstakes, it may also create significant blowback from customers which will hurt your brand.

Furthermore, a rules change could also mean that you’ve changed the odds of winning or created an unfair advantage or disadvantage for the entrants who entered your sweepstakes prior to your announcement. Changing the rules may significantly increase the chances of a dispute being brought against your company or the sponsor.

How to Change Your Sweepstakes Rules If You Absolutely Have to

If making a change to your sweepstakes rules is unavoidable because of a COVID-19 cancellation, here’s the right way to do it:

  1. Add a date/time stamp atop of the Official Rules document explaining the need for the change. Ex: “mm/dd/yy and 00:00 [ time zone] Update: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Championship Game has officially been canceled. In lieu of two tickets, the grand prize winner will receive a check for $XXXX. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your participation.”
  2. Notify all entrants immediately that the Official Rules have changed.

If you’re running a sweepstakes promotion in Florida, the State of Florida has indicated that for the short-term, they will allow sponsors to substitute a trip or sports-related prize for another prize due to coronavirus. Make sure to contact local regulators first for clarification before making any changes.

What If I Can’t Deliver the Sweepstakes Prize?

For example, if the prize you originally offered was a vacation to a location that is now under travel restrictions, your official rules likely already have “force majeure” clauses in place that will allow you to substitute this prize with another prize of equal or greater value.

Sweeppea helps clients create Official Rules that ensures that your promotion has the flexibility you need when it comes to prize delivery so that you’re covered if you need to make changes to your prize.

Need help with sweepstakes or contest management? Call 305-505-5393 or email us with your questions.

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