Like many states across the US, the states of Michigan and Ohio follow general promotion laws and guidelines, and both require material terms—such as promotion start and end dates, entry instructions, description of how winners will be determined, and prize details—to be posted in the official rules.

Any game of chance in the US must also remove all elements of consideration before launching. Monetary consideration is the requirement to pay a fee or purchase a product. Nonmonetary consideration is the requirement to put forth too much effort or time in order to enter the sweepstakes.

While most states allow for the addition of a free alternate method of entry (AMOE) to balance things out, Michigan and Ohio have one additional caveat.

Store Visits and Sales Presentations

The states of Michigan and Ohio each view the requirement to visit a store (without having gone there to make a purchase or attend a sales presentation) as a non-monetary consideration.

This means that if you are a retailer and you place free entry forms at your customer service desk, you could still be in violation of state law, even though federal law generally considers a free entry form at a retail location to be okay.

When consideration of any kind is present in a game of chance, the promotion is deemed a lottery, and lotteries are only allowed to be instituted by state entities.

In order to ensure a retail promotion is legal in the states of Michigan and Ohio, sponsors must do one of three things: remove retail entry from the promotion structure, offer a free method of entry outside the retail location (online, for instance), or tie the store visit to a purchase or sales presentation and offer an alternate free method of entry outside the retail location.

These laws can be tricky to navigate when your promotion is running nationally, but we’ll help you!

Tobacco Prohibited in Michigan

The state of Michigan prohibits any tobacco-related promotions (games of chance, skill, or otherwise), so if you are a tobacco brand or working with a tobacco brand on your promotion, you’ll have to omit residents of Michigan.

Other Laws

In addition to state laws, other federal laws apply to all games of chance. These laws may impose restrictions on how certain elements of your sweepstakes are structured, including, but not limited to:

  • The type of brand sponsoring the promotion: Certain industries, such as the financial, alcohol, and tobacco industries may have additional requirements or ban sweepstakes altogether depending on how they are structured.
  • The audience you are advertising to: The federal government has strict requirements on how and who you advertise to, including the information you collect and ways in which you share that information with the public. Marketing to minors is a slippery slope and carries very specific requirements to protect children under the age of 18.
  • The channels and mediums for which you are conducting the sweepstakes: Whether you’re running your sweepstakes on social media, via text message, online, or direct mail, each individual medium has its own requirements that must be adhered to.

Let us know if you plan to include Michigan or Ohio residents in your next promotion. If so, we’ll help you determine the best way to structure your sweepstakes so you meet your objectives and stay on the up and up. Give us a call at (888) 744-3217 or submit a quote request here for a response within 24 hours or less!

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