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Sweepstakes Definition Vs Contest Vs Lottery: What They Mean

Sweepstakes Definition Vs Contest Vs Lottery: What They Mean

Written By: author image Stacey Corrin
author image Stacey Corrin
Stacey has been writing about WordPress and digital marketing for over 10 years and on other topics for much longer. Alongside this, she's fascinated with web design, user experience, and SEO.
     Reviewed By: John Turner
reviewer image John Turner
John Turner is the co-founder of RafflePress. He has over 20+ years of business and development experience and his plugins have been downloaded over 25 million times.

Are you confused by the sweepstakes definition versus lotteries, contests, and other types of giveaways?

Terms like “giveaway” and “prize promotion” also describe campaigns that offer incentives in exchange for engagement and brand growth. But what each term means is often confusing, and some have different legal implications that savvy business owners need to understand.

That’s why we’ll use this article to explain the difference between sweepstakes vs. contests vs. lotteries. In the end, you’ll know what each term means and how to run a successful giveaway campaign for your business.

Why Learn the Different Types of Giveaway Campaigns?

Learning the different types of giveaway campaigns will help you show your audience how to enter correctly. At the same time, understanding the legal implications behind different giveaway types will ensure your business won’t break any rules or regulations.

As you’ll learn below, there are some giveaway campaigns that only government organizations or non-profits can run. And there are others that any individual or business can administer.

Today we’ll cover:

  • Sweepstakes
  • Contests
  • Lotteries
  • Raffles

So let’s dive in by defining what sweepstakes are.

What Is the Definition of Sweepstakes?

Online sweepstakes are much like conventional prize giveaways, where you offer a prize to users who complete specific actions. For example, typical “like to win” and “follow to win” giveaways fall under the sweepstakes definition.

Additionally, sweepstakes don’t require a purchase or any other form of consideration to enter. Users simply have to complete the desired action for a chance to win.

Moreover, businesses typically draw sweepstakes winners randomly to ensure the prize draw is fair. So it’s very much a game of luck that doesn’t require any special talents.

sweepstakes definition example

Sweepstakes are probably the most common type of giveaway because they offer so many benefits. With precise entry methods, you can:

And as a result, you can grow your business while engaging with your target audience.

Sweepstakes vs. Contest

Contests are different from sweepstakes because they involve skill or talent. And you choose the winner for contests based on the quality of their entry.

As such, you can think of contests as a game of skill.

For instance, a contest can require users to submit a photo, write a blog post, post a video, or do any other task that requires a level of skill. Then when the contest ends, you can judge which submission has the best quality or the most effort and choose it as the winner.

contest definition example

The thing about contests is they’re an excellent way to drive engagement with your audience. At the same time, they’re ideal for collecting user-generated content (UGC) like photos and videos that demonstrate your products or services.

And unlike sweepstakes, you can use contests as an incentive to buy your products. For example, you can run contests that ask users to submit a photo or video of themselves using your products or demonstrating how they work.

Sweepstakes vs. Lottery

Next is a type of giveaway that some people find confusing: lotteries. Compared to sweepstakes, a lottery is a prize promotion where you ask users to pay money to enter and randomly draw the winner.

You can think of lotteries as a game of luck with an entry fee.

Lottery definition example

However, requiring users to pay to enter a giveaway where you draw the winners randomly can violate no purchase necessary laws in the U.S.A. and many other countries. In fact, lotteries are usually only legal when a government organization runs them.

Sweepstakes Definition vs. Raffles

Raffles are another type of giveaway that functions similarly to lotteries in that they require a fee to enter, and you draw the winner randomly. But where raffles differ is with 2 key aspects, for instance:

  1. Raffles must have a winner every time, and you can’t carry the prize pool over to the next draw.
  2. Not-for-profit organizations are allowed to run raffles.

In the end, if you’re a business that wants to run a giveaway or prize promotion, it’s a good idea to avoid the grey area of lotteries and raffles and focus on sweepstakes and contests instead.

Note: If you’re in any doubt about the rules regarding lotteries and raffles in your country, it’s best to check with your local authorities.

How to Run Sweepstakes with RafflePress

As we mentioned above, contests and sweepstakes are a super-effective way to engage your audience, boost brand awareness and drive meaningful actions with your target audience.

But the question remains, how do you run a successful contest or sweepstakes for your business?

RafflePress’s giveaway app can make your giveaway goals a reality if you use WordPress for your business website.

RafflePress best WordPress giveaway plugin

RafflePress is the best WordPress giveaway plugin on the market. With its powerful drag-and-drop giveaway builder, you can launch sweepstakes or contests on your website in a few minutes.

Moreover, you can use its 1-click entry actions to run sweepstakes that drive actions important to your business, like following you on social media, joining your email newsletter, leaving a blog comment, etc.

Or you can run contests that incentivize users to submit photos, videos, and even written content.

And because RafflePress is a lightweight plugin, it won’t impact your website’s performance or slow it down, offering the best experience for your visitors.

giveaway landing page with rafflepress

Check out this step-by-step guide to learn how to run sweepstakes in WordPress with RafflePress.

Or if you’re ready to dive in…

Get started with RafflePress today.

And that’s it!

We hope this article helped solve the confusion behind the sweepstakes definition. Now you know the best type of prize promotion to excite your audience and grow your business.

And if you’re still curious about rules, check out these Facebook giveaway rules.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to follow our YouTube Channel for a range of helpful video tutorials. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter too.

author avatar
Stacey Corrin Writer
Stacey has been writing about WordPress and digital marketing for over 10 years and on other topics for much longer. Alongside this, she's fascinated with web design, user experience, and SEO.

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