A recent amendment to Florida’s game promotion statute makes it easier for operators of sweepstakes and other games of chance to advertise their promotions in that state. The statute requires any operator of a game of chance with an aggregate prize value exceeding $5,000 to “publish the rules and regulations in all advertising copy,” which traditionally has been understood to mean that the full official rules for a sweepstakes must be printed in any print advertisement distributed in the state of Florida. This includes print advertisements appearing in nationally-distributed publications, even if not specifically directed to Florida residents. The statute as amended now provides that so long as the print advertisement includes a website address, toll-free telephone number or mailing address from which the full rules can be obtained, only the “material terms” of the rules need be disclosed. This change brings Florida’s sweepstakes law in line with those of most other states, where typically the use in an advertisement of abbreviated rules that disclose only a few key terms (such as the end date of the promotion, the eligibility requirements, a description of how to obtain full rules, and a statement that no purchase is required) is permitted.
The amended statute does not specifically identify the “material terms” that must be disclosed in a print advertisement. However, on September 23, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (the state agency responsible for sweepstakes matters) issued a proposed rule providing that the material terms to be disclosed in print advertisements consist of the following:
(1) the name of the promotion and the operator of the promotion;
(2) a statement that no purchase is necessary to enter or play;
(3) the start and end dates (and specific times, if applicable) of the promotion;
(4) a description of any age and geographic eligibility restrictions; and
(5) disclosure of where the promotion is void (industry observers expect that a statement that the promotion is “void where prohibited” will suffice).
This proposed rule has been developed with the input of the Promotion Marketing Association, and it is not anticipated that any significant changes will be made to the rule before it is adopted in its final form. A public hearing concerning the proposed rule has been tentatively scheduled for October 18, although the hearing will only take place if specifically requested by one or more members of the public.The complete text of the proposed rule is set forth in the September 23 issue of the Florida Administrative Weekly, available online at http://faw.dos.state.fl.us/index.html.