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Guaranteed Winner Promotions

Can a sponsor state in its promotional materials that a person is a "guaranteed winner" when all sweepstakes entrants will win and receive a prize? Several states have directly addressed this issue by statute.

The following language from Connecticut Admin. Code Section 42-110b-23(a)(c) is fairly representative regarding the types of activities that are precluded in those states that address the issue:

(c) It shall be an unfair or deceptive act or practice to represent that a person is a "winner," or has been "selected," or is otherwise being involved in a select group for receipt of a prize or an opportunity, or that a person is entering a "contest," "sweepstakes," "drawing," or other competitive enterprise from which a winner or select group of winners will receive a prize or opportunity, when, in fact, the enterprise is simply a promotional scheme designed to make contact with prospective customers, or all or a substantial number of those "entering" receive the same "prize" or "opportunity."

While statutory language in the other states varies, each state's laws are generally designed to prevent sponsors from deceiving people into thinking they are, in some manner, specially selected to win, when in fact, everyone who enters is a winner. Accordingly, a program (a) using the restricted language "winner" or "guaranteed winner;" (b) in a promotional scheme designed to make contact with prospective customers; and (c) where all or a substantial number of those entering the promotion will receive the same prize, arguably conflicts with the statutory or regulatory prohibitions in those states with similar laws.