The Difference: Sweeps, Lottos & Contests

You’ve probably heard various terms for a ‘giveaway’ including sweepstakes, contest, and lottery. You might be inclined to think of those interchangeably, however there are distinct differences between each. On the surface level, they all give people chances to win prizes so let’s delve into the important differences.

sweepstakes is defined as ‘a promotional drawing in which prizes are given away at no charge to the participants’. This is a game of luck, since winners will be selected at random. The prizes from a sweepstakes can range from small items like t-shirts to big things like houses, cars, and cash prizes. Sweepstakes sometimes offer additional entries for performing various activities like referring friends, sharing the sweepstakes on social media, and more.

contest is defined as ‘an event in which people try to win by doing something better than others’. Winners will be chosen or judged based on their submission or performance. This is game of skill, since winners will be selected based on merit. Contests can range from the tastiest recipe, to fastest time finishing a task, to most beautiful photograph. Some contests are judged by specific people or are open to public voting.

lottery is defined as ‘a means of raising money by selling numbered tickets and giving prizes to the holders of numbers drawn at random’. Examples of a lottery include a fundraiser raffle or the Powerball and Mega Millions lottery. In this scenario the winner is chosen at random, but you have to pay to play. This is essentially a game of luck that has an entry fee. Lotteries are heavily regulated by the government and have lots of rules that must be complied with in order to be considered legitimate.

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