First, it helps to understand the difference between a sweepstakes, contest and lottery. In a sweepstakes, winners are chosen randomly from all participants. In a contest, the winners' entries are usually judged and are based on a skill or criteria. In a lottery, winners are chosen at random, but in order to enter, the participant must pay. A payment is called a consideration. Only states can hold lotteries, so all private lotteries are illegal.
To avoid being classified as an illegal lottery in any state, your promotion can only have 2 of these 3 elements: prize, chance and consideration. Keep in mind, consideration can mean anything of value, including a fee or even a significant effort (i.e., time spent shooting/submitting a photo, etc.)
Besides federal considerations, every state has its own specifics laws regarding sweepstakes and contests.
In California, you can't award alcohol as the only prize. Booze can be part of a prize package, however. The state also has other restrictions related to alcohol: you can't force entrants to buy alcoholic beverages as part of entry or force them to visit a liquor store, bar or licensed retailer as part of their entry or to get entry forms. Forms must be available elsewhere as well.
Contests: are allowed as long as they do not charge a consideration. If the contest includes an element of consideration the sponsor must award the contest prize based on skill and not chance and follow all Prize Promotion Laws prize disclosures.
Sweepstakes: are allowed as long as participants do not pay consideration and the sponsor follows all Prize Promotion Laws prize disclosures.
Prize Promotion Laws - California -Contests
Prize Promotion Laws - California- Gifts as Sales Incentives
Prize Promotion Laws - California- Telemarketing
California Cannabis or Marijuana Sweepstakes or Contest Laws
Legal Review Criteria: Dominant Factor Doctrine when assessing whether or not chance determines the outcome of a promotion.
Note: the information above is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Sweepstakes and Contest promotional laws change and the above may not reflect the must current laws.