What is the free entry on a sweepstakes?

One of the most notable ways that Sweepstakes and Raffles differ is the requirement that sweepstakes offer a free method of entry. This helps your Experience comply with anti-gambling laws and makes Sweepstakes a good alternative if your organization can’t run a Raffle.

Why do I need to offer a method of free entry?

Sweepstakes must provide a free method of entry to avoid being classified as gambling. Most government agencies classify Raffles as gambling because individuals must purchase a chance to win. Because Sweepstakes require a free method of entry, the gambling classification is removed. (You can’t gamble for free.)

The primary benefit of avoiding gambling classification is that Sweepstakes allow organizations to reach a larger audience because they have fewer geographical restrictions than Raffles.

How Free Entries Work

All Givebacks Sweepstakes display a list of official rules on the Sweepstakes page. The link to the free method of entry is included in these rules. To submit a free entry, people will need to:

  1. Locate the link in the rules.
  2. Click on the link and enter their email address.
  3. Fill out a form, which they’ll receive via email.
  4. Mail the form to the address included on the form to be entered into the drawing.

How many people use the free method of entry?

There are limitations in place, e.g., one entry per person, to prevent people from over-utilizing the free method of entry.  In our experience, mail-in entries typically total less than one percent of the number of donation-based entries, and some sweepstakes receive no mail-in entries at all!

Most people are willing to donate to participate since they’re supporting a charitable cause. Additionally, those who enter for free can learn about the organization and its cause, so your organization still receives some benefits.

How does the free entry affect my experience?

The free entry requirement impacts several aspects of a Sweepstakes Experience:

1. Drawing method

The winning entries must be drawn systematically at random by Givebacks. There is no way for the organization to draw winners manually, as is possible with a raffle.

Even though free entries are limited to one per person, the free entry receives the average number of entries donors have paid to enter the drawing. Calculating this by hand would be too complex and introduce the risk for human errors (which could make the drawing unfair). There is also no way to prove the drawing was done correctly should a gaming agency audit the drawing.

For the sake of fairness and simplicity, Givebacks uses a certified random generator to:

  • Calculate the average number of paid entries.
  • Assign the average number of paid entries to each free entry.
  • Run all entries through the drawing process to select a winner.

2. Drawing date and time

All entries must be received or postmarked by the entry deadline date. To comply with the equal dignity clause, sufficient time between the “Stop selling entries date and time” and the “Drawing date and time” is required to allow the free entries to reach the Givebacks office and be entered into the drawing.  For this reason, there needs to be a three-business day minimum between the entry deadline date and when the drawing occurs.

3. Offline entries
Givebacks permits organizers to sell Sweepstakes tickets offline and input them manually. See the following Knowledge Base article for more information: How-to: Add Raffle or Sweepstakes Tickets That You’ve Sold Offline.

Please note that anyone who purchases a Sweepstakes ticket offline MUST be informed of the free method of entry. You will need to give a legally binding acknowledgment that this requirement has been fulfilled when you add offline Sweepstakes ticket purchases.


Questions? Contact Givebacks Support.


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