Sweepstakes sponsors have an obligation to ensure that each of the entrants has the exact same chances of winning a prize. For this reason, they are real sticklers for the rules, and each individual sweepstake has its own unique guidelines. To prevent yourself from being disqualified, you should make it a point of reading over the rules of each sweepstake before you enter. Make sure that you can answer these questions before you fill out every entry form.
Who Can Enter?
Each sweepstake has individual restrictions about who is allowed to participate in the prize drawing. Restrictions can include:
- Place of Residence: Only a very few sweepstakes are open to everyone in the world. Most restrict entry based on country, state, or even specific counties or cities within a state.
- Age Range: U.S. laws demand that personal information collected from minors be handled differently than that of adults. For this reason, the vast majority of sweepstakes restrict entry to people aged 18 or above. However, there are giveaways that are aimed specifically to children or to other targeted age groups.
- Gender: Some sweeps are open only to the guys, or only for the gals. Check to make sure your gender isn’t restricted before entering.
- Affiliation with Sponsor: To avoid the appearance of impropriety, most sweepstakes prohibit entry from employees or family members of employees of the sponsor.
How Often Can I Enter?
Sweepstakes set a specific entry frequency, and will often disqualify anyone who sets a toe over these limits. Make sure you check how often you can enter, before you have all of your hard work come to nothing. Common entry frequencies include:
- One Time: Everyone has a single shot at winning, and sending in a second entry can get you disqualified.
- Daily Entry: You can enter one time each day. A day is usually defined as lasting from 12 am to 11:59 pm.
- 24-Hour Entry: You can enter once every 24 hours. That means that if you entered at 10:00 am on one day, entering at 9:59 the next could result in disqualification.
- Weekly Entry: You may enter once every seven days.
- Monthly Entry: One entry is allowed each calendar month.
- Unlimited Entry: There are no restrictions on the number of entries you may send over.
- Numbered Entry: You may enter a certain number of times, and it doesn’t matter when those entries are sent. For example, you may enter 10 times over the life of the sweepstake.
What About Family Members?
Oftentimes, sweepstakes will have restrictions about entry from family members or people living together. Some of the most common restrictions include:
- Restrictions per Person: Each individual can enter a certain number of times.
- Restrictions per Household: A household is all of the people, related or not, who share the same address.
- Restrictions per Email: The same person can enter more than once, if he or she uses different email addresses.
- Restrictions per IP: People who share the same internet connection cannot enter the same sweepstake more than once. This could be people who live in the same house, or it could be everybody who enters from an office or a university computer lab.
Sweepstakes can also combine the above restrictions. For example: One entry per person/email/household.
What Do I Have to Do to Enter?
Some sweepstakes require that you answer trivia questions, fill out a survey, attach a photograph, or click on a link in an email to be entered. If you do not follow these instructions carefully, your entries will be discarded.
What’s the Entry Period?
Make sure you know when each sweepstake starts and ends. Any entries sent outside of the entry period will be disqualified.
Are There Any Special Prohibitions?
Some sweepstakes will disqualify you for using form filling software, for getting to the entry form from any page other than the site’s homepage, or a number of other special prohibitions. Make sure that you read and follow the specific guidelines for every sweepstake carefully.
The most important rule to remember is never, ever try to cheat sweepstakes. Sponsors are extremely savvy, and will catch rule breakers. Not only will you get disqualified from the current sweepstake, but you could also have your name added to a blacklist, which would prevent you from winning from that sponsor in the future as well. It’s just not worth it. Enter clean, enter often, and your luck will soar!