Can You Change Your Sweepstakes Rules After the Promotion Starts?
Should you change the sweepstakes rules for your text sweepstakes after it has started? Generally, no. However, you might think that you really need to.
Here is how to know when it’s okay to change your sweepstakes rules after the promotion starts and how to do it.
How Will the Sweepstakes Rules Change Affect Entrants?
The first thing you need to consider is how your sweepstakes rules change will affect existing entrants. In some instances, the change could have a major impact which would actually render your sweepstakes illegal.
If any of the following apply, do not change your sweepstakes rules:
- You’ve already registered and bonded your text sweepstakes. If your promotion is registered and bonded with the Attorney General in the states of New York or Florida, changing the Official Rules is illegal.
- A change to the Official Rules changes the odds of winning. If your change affects the integrity of the sweepstakes, you could be sued by the entrants.
- Your sweepstakes rules changes create an unfair advantage. If earlier or later entrants have a better chance of winning because they are held to different standards than the other group, then don’t make changes to the rules.
These reasons are the main reasons for why you shouldn’t change your rules if you don’t want to cause your promotion to be deemed illegal or considered unfair by entrants. So if a rule change is still needed, in these cases, consult an attorney first.
How to Announce a Sweepstakes Rules Change
Now let’s say your sweepstakes rules change is actually allowed (because it does not meet the criteria above). If you’ve decided that you’d like to change the end date of the promotion, for example, make a formal announcement before the change goes into effect.
Include the announcement of the change in your updated Official Rules. The revision, and the date that it goes into effect, should be clearly indicated in all of your sweepstakes advertising materials. Identify and date the rules changes using the phrase “effective as of.”
Make sure the sweepstakes rules change announcement is visible on all mediums where you have/will advertise your sweepstakes. For example, if you promote your sweepstakes via ads on social media, then you must also make an ad that announces the rules change.
Be Prepared for Questions
It’s inevitable that entrants will have questions about your sweepstakes changes. Be prepared for questions and negative feedback from entrants who aren’t happy with the change. Responding promptly and honestly is the best way to avoid major disruption to your promotion.
Given the potential for fallout and the loss of trust that a sweepstakes rules change may cause, the best thing to do is to just get it right from the beginning. However, if a sweepstakes rules change is unavoidable, make sure that you have a plan in place.