- Participation: Giveaways and contests must offer people a free way to participate. Participants should not be required to make a purchase or provide consideration in order to win. A good indication of this is the phrase: "no purchase necessary!"
- Disclosures and advertising: The terms of the giveaway must be published in its advertisement. Disclosures should be made detailing entry methods, eligibility requirements, any restrictions, and an estimated retail value of the prizes offered. The name of the operator of the giveaway must also be disclosed, as well as the start and end dates for the giveaway, including exact times if applicable.
Prize value: If the giveaway offers prizes of a combined valued greater than $5,000, the giveaway must be registered with the state and carry a surety bond. These rules apply even if the giveaway is based in another state, but conducted in FL and/ or open to FL residents.
- Registration: The registration must be filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) at least 7 days before the giveaway begins.
- Bond: The host of a giveaway is required to have a surety bond or statement of trust for the full value of the prizes to protect participants. The exception to this bond requirement is if the operator has previously held giveaways in FL for 5 consecutive years with no civil, criminal, or administrative actions brought against them for the giveaway.
- Compliance with state laws: Hosts of giveaways must comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines, including making disclosures that are easily understood by the audience. The host of the giveaway must disclose any material connection between themselves and the brand or product being offered. Additionally, the giveaway must be won based on chance. After the giveaway, the names and addresses of all winners must be reported.
- Fulfilling promises: The host of the giveaway must honor the terms of the giveaway and deliver the promised prizes to the winners.
- Tax Implications: Winners and hosts of giveaways should be aware that there may be tax consequences for the prizes offered. Typically, winners are responsible for reporting and paying taxes on the value of the prizes received, but it is always recommended to ask a professional about your specific situation.
A violation of Florida's giveaway laws can land you a civil penalty of up to thousands of dollars, and in some cases penalties can be a criminal violation or constitute deceptive and unfair trade practice.
For these reasons, it is best to consult with an attorney regarding your giveaway. Contact Venustas Law to ensure your exciting giveaway doesn't turn into a money eating monster.
(Fl. Stat. 849.094)