SETTING UP A SKILLS BASED CONTESTS?
Many clients call with a request to help them write contest rules. The problem is that often the contest they have in mind may not be a true contest from a legal sense. While contest rules are a must across the 50 states when setting up a legally complaint contest, the definition of what is or is not a contest may differ.
Contest are different fundamentally from sweepstakes. While contests focus on the skills of a contestant, sweepstakes distribute prizes based on chance or luck. While some contests may charge an entry fee, sweepstakes must remain free of charge. But understanding these differences, does not mean that your latest contest idea can be structured to be legally complaint across the 50 states. Before rushing into writing contest rules, the process starts with trying to understand how your contest judges entries. Does your contest focus on the contestant skills?
WHAT IS A SKILLS-BASED CONTEST?
Trying to define what is and is not "skill-based" can be incredibly important. It can often determine whether or not your contest will be legal across all 50 states in the U.S. One thing we know for certain. As in any other area of law, there is no singular definition that is accepted in every jurisdiction. That said, we can establish some principles that are true across the various states.
California provides us with a good definition: "A contest is any game, puzzle, scheme, or plan which offers prospective participants the opportunity to receive or compete for gifts or prizes on the basis of skill or skill and chance, and which is conditioned wholly or partly on the payment of some value. "Contest" does not include a sporting event, performance, or tournament of skill, power or endurance between participants who are actually present."
Can My Idea Be SetUp as A Skills-Based Contest?
It can be quite difficult to make sure that an idea that starts out as a test of a participant's skills, does not end up as a mix of chance and skills. Seemingly insignificant issues like "how many rounds to a contest?", "How long is each round?" "Should the Community Vote for the Winners?" and "What skills are exhibited?" can result in turning a skills based contest into a sweepstakes. Rest assured that most ideas can be properly run as skills-based contests. Such ideas include:
- Trivia Contests
- Arcade or Video Game Contests
- Word Games
- Essay or Writing Contests
- Music Contests: Composition and Performance
- Photography Contests
- Video Contests
It is not the type of contest that is at issue but how it is run and executed. If you have any questions or concerns, call us. We can Help!
Lior Leser, Internet Lawyer, represents clients in online legal compliance issues such as email compliance, online marketing & advertising compliance, software development laws, mobile compliance laws, intellectual property laws, electronic transaction laws, online contest & sweepstakes laws, and online corporate laws. Lior Leser, Internet Lawyer is licensed to practice law in Florida and California.
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