The State of Florida has amended its law governing games of
chance (F.S. 849), revising certain provisions
including those governing game promotions and sweepstakes run by
retailers and consumer brands, among others. The amendments to
section 849.094, which governs game promotions in connection with
the sale of consumer products or services, clarify that the state
statute only permits games of chance run by commercial entities on
a "limited and occasional basis," for marketing and
advertising purposes "in connection with and incidental
to" the sale of a product or service. The revisions
specifically added sweepstakes to the definition of "game
promotion," and appended the "and incidental to"
language. The definition of "operator" was also expanded
to add "a retailer who operates any game promotion," and
a "corporation, organization, or association or agent"
who promotes, operates, or conducts a "nationally
advertised" game promotion, clarifying that the law governs
both promotions conducted solely within Florida, as well as those
conducted nationally, including within the state. The revised
statute also expressly makes violations of the law a deceptive and
unfair trade practice under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade
The amendments, which also clarify the law's application to
non-profit and other organizations, appear to be Florida's
attempt to clarify that F.S. 849.094 is only applicable to
promotions or sweepstakes conducted by for-profit commercial
entities as an advertising tool, and is "not intended to
provide a vehicle for the establishment of places of ongoing
gambling or gaming."
The amendments were reportedly the result of state and federal
investigations into a group called Allied Veterans of the World,
which was accused of operating gambling centers under the guise of
Internet cafes across Florida. While some of the amendments, which
became effective April 10, 2013, do concern game promotions and
sweepstakes, they do not appear to be an attempt to restrict or
otherwise prevent companies from offering these kinds of
We are continuing to analyze the impact of these amendments and
will reach out in the upcoming days with updates.
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According to the FTC: "The basic consumer protection statute enforced by the Commission is Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which provides that "unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce … are … declared unlawful."