Gambling has to be defined legally before we can understand what sets a sweepstakes contest apart.Gamblings definition must include the three following elements:
There are two similarities between gambling and sweepstakes contests. Both have prizes, and both have the element of chance. When you play a scratch-off game from you grocery store, and when you pull the lever on the slot machine at the casino, there is a chance to win in a prize in both ways. The difference is that there is no consideration on the scratch-off game from the grocery store. Consideration means that you have to pay directly to enter the game. While the casino is very straightforward about paying to play, the scratch off game is a benefit of choosing to shop at that store. There is a free entry into the game for shopping at the store.
This is exactly how sweepstakes gaming works. Customers don’t purchase entries into the “game” or “sweepstakes;” instead they purchase time on the computer, or in some cases long-distance phone time. When the customers purchase this product, they are provided free entries into the sweepstakes game. And instead of scratching off the tickets to see if they won free groceries at the store, they are playing on the sweepstakes machines to reveal if they have won or not. In short, the sweepstakes machines are just like the scratch-off contest from the greocery store, and the internet or phone time is like the groceries. This makes sweepstakes legal.