What AMOE Means and Why Sweepstakes Use Them

Different methods for entering sweepstakes
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AMOE stands for "Alternate Method of Entry" and is used when sweepstakes have more than one way of accepting entries. You can use an AMOE to submit an entry into a giveaway when the primary entry method doesn't work for you. In some circumstances, sweepstakes are required to offer an AMOE to avoid falling under illegal lottery laws.

For example, you might see an AMOE offered if you can enter a giveaway automatically with a purchase, but you have the option of using an AMOE to enter for free.

Another example: some sweepstakes might state that you have to share a photo on Instagram to enter online, but if you don't want to share a picture, you can use an AMOE to enter by mail.

Real-Life Example: From PSCU Financial Services' Fly Away with 10K Sweepstakes' Rules: "Alternate Method of Entry (AMOE): Visit the Branch of any participating Financial Institution between open and close of business during the Sweepstakes Period."

Common AMOE's

There are a number of ways that sponsors can accept entries into sweepstakes today including:

  • Online entry form
  • Email entry
  • Entry by mail
  • Telephone entry
  • Entering through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram
  • Sharing the giveaway on Facebook or other social media channels
  • In-person entry at stores, restaurants, or events
  • Text message entry

Why Sweepstakes Offer AMOE's

Sometimes, sweepstakes offer an alternate entry method to make it as easy as possible for people to enter. But an important reason why many sweepstakes offer an AMOE has to do with consideration.

For example, purchases can't legally be required to enter sweepstakes. So if a company has an entry method that involves any kind of monetary benefit, like a purchase or donation, they must offer an alternate entry method with exactly equal odds.

Consideration can be a tricky issue because the money spent doesn't have to directly benefit the sponsoring company. Therefore, it can be difficult to determine what exactly falls under consideration laws. Even internet access for online sweepstakes has come into question.

According to the article, Don't Gamble with Internet Sweepstakes:

"There has been some concern that requiring a computer and/or Internet access to enter a sweepstakes could be deemed consideration. However, as long as consumers are not specifically induced to purchase Internet access and/or a computer for the purpose of participating in a promotion, Internet sweepstakes are not likely to be deemed an illegal lottery on that basis alone."

To be safe, however, many internet sweepstakes offer a mail-in entry AMOE to be sure that they are not falling afoul of illegal lottery laws.

Using Alternate Method's

 There are several different factors to consider when choosing an entry method. For example:

  • Some AMOEs might require less work than others (for example, needing to submit a photo or a recipe that won't be judged).
  • Some AMOEs will ask for less personal information (many mail-in AMOEs, for example, don't need your email address).
  • And sometimes, you'll save money using a free versus with-purchase entry method (though if you are buying a qualifying product anyway, that might be the easiest way for you to enter).

Legally, companies are not allowed to offer better odds with some entry methods over others. So you do not have to worry that if you are using a free entry method instead of making a purchase your entry won't be chosen as a winner, for example. You are free to decide which entry method is most convenient for you.

When They Are Available

Companies are required to disclose all entry methods in their sweepstakes' rules, as well as anywhere they are advertising the giveaway. 

Some big retailers have gotten in legal trouble for having an AMOE, but not making it clear to entrants. For example, sweepstakes lawyers Thompson Coburn posted about a $100,000+ settlement A&P made after the New York Attorney General found they had not made it clear that a giveaway had a non-purchase entry method.