California Beefs Up Sweepstakes Solicitation Law

In a bill signed into law on September 30, 2008 the California State Legislature sought to expand the scope of §17539.15 (“Solicitation materials containing sweepstakes entries; advertising; definitions”) in various ways. The new version of the law covers solicitation materials selling information regarding sweepstakes (e.g., sweepstakes club newsletters) in addition to solicitation materials containing sweepstakes entry materials.  The law now also prohibits the use of special selection language or representations as to special treatment unless they are true; similarly, solicitation materials cannot indicate or imply that a prize notice is urgent if the recipient of same does not have a limited amount of time to act. Further, the law bans simulating or falsely representing the endorsement by a governmental unit, an attorney or insurance/brokerage company or otherwise creating a false impression as to the source, authorization or approval of solicitation materials. Conversely, the law stipulates that the official rules (which must be included in the solicitation materials) must feature the date(s) of winner determination. Also, the mandated “No Purchase Necessary” statement must be in the following or any substantially similar format:  “No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win this Sweepstakes.” 

Earlier versions of the bill would have addressed other topics, including a limitation on   a sweepstakes sponsor’s ability to share or sell the names or other personally identifiable information of sweepstakes participants. But, the final version only made the above-indicated changes to existing law.