Can Kids Enter Sweepstakes in Maine?

A Repeal of a 2009 Marketing Law Allows Children in Maine to Enter Again

Picture of a girl winning at her computer.
••• Image (c) JGI/Jamie Grill / Blend Images / Getty Images

Update: In March of 2010, the legislature of Maine repealed the Act to Prohibit Predatory Marketing Against Minors.

The goal of the law, which was intended to protect the privacy of minors be restricting how information about children could be gathered and shared, is widely considered laudable. However, there was concern that the act was unconstitutional, and could have made the state vulnerable to lawsuits.

The way the act was worded could have made it illegal for minors to sign up for social media websites and made it difficult for them to get important information. Obviously, not what the law intended.

There should be a way to allow harmless collection of data, such as opinion polls, website registration, and sweepstakes entry, without leaving minors vulnerable.

In the meantime, COPPA laws protect children in Maine, as well as elsewhere in the United States.

Since the repeal of the Act to Prohibit Predatory Marketing against Minors, sweepstakes sponsors have largely stopped prohibiting children in Maine from entering their sweepstakes.

Answer: Maine's Act to Prohibit Predatory Marketing against Minors () is causing many sponsors to prohibit kids from entering sweepstakes in Maine.

What Was the Act to Prohibit Predatory Marketing against Minors?

Legislators in Maine tried to stop inappropriate advertising to children by making it illegal to market to children without express permission from their parents. The Act to Prohibit Predatory Marketing Against Minors (read the full text of the law) went into effect on September 12, 2009.

Because sweepstakes are a form of advertising, this law also applied to sweepstakes sponsors. The fines for violating this act were hefty, running between $10,000 and $20,000 for the first violation and $20,000 for each additional violation.

Can you imagine how expensive it could be if a bunch of children entered a sweepstakes and the sponsor was found to be in violation of Maine's sweepstakes law? Thus, many sponsors started explicitly prohibited residents of Maine who were under the age of majority from entering.

How Did Maine's the Act to Prohibit Predatory Marketing against Minors Differ from Federal Children's Laws?

The Predatory Marketing against Minors Act went significantly farther than the federal children's protection laws, COPPA. For example:

  • COPPA applies to children under 13 years old, while the┬áthe Act to Prohibit Predatory Marketing against Minors applies to everyone under the age of majority, which is 18 in Maine.
  • COPPA only applies online, while Maine's privacy act applies to online and offline advertising.
  • Maine's privacy act applies whether the sponsor knows the entrant is a child or not, making it even more important to verify age.
  • The Predatory Marketing against Minors Act doesn't even allow sponsors to collect some information in order to contact the parents for permission, as some sweepstakes currently do.

What Was the Effect of Maine's Predatory Marketing against Minors Act on Sweepstakes?

Many kids sweepstakes prohibited entry from Maine residents, even when they allow minors from other states to enter. (Now that the act has been repealed, this is no longer the case).