What Are Automatic Sweepstakes Entries?

What Do Sweepstakes Mean When They Say No Automatic Entries?

Image of a robot at a computer.
How nice it would be to have a robot to enter your sweepstakes automatically!. Glowimages/Getty Images

When you read sweepstakes rules, you'll find that some say that automatic entries are not allowed, What does that mean? Will you be disqualified for using the automatic form filling feature of your internet browser? Does Roboform count?

Here's what you need to know about automatic sweepstakes entries and how to avoid being disqualified for using them.

Automatic Entries vs. Using Auto-Fill to Enter

Automatic sweepstakes entries are made by a software program called a bot that fills out the entry forms for you — without you ever needing to visit the sweepstakes site.

While automatic entry services have advantages for sweepstakes sponsors, such as reaching a target audience that wouldn't otherwise find their giveaways, some companies prohibit automatic entries because they only want people who have visited their websites to have the chance to win.

Drawing people to their website is an important goal for many companies when they run sweepstakes because it gives them a chance to inform you about their products.

Roboform is different from typical automatic entry services. Using Roboform means that you don't have to type as much to fill out your entry forms, but you still visit the sweepstakes' websites, decide if you want to sign up for newsletters, and so on.

The same is true for the autofill option on your internet browser and auto-fill programs that offer alternatives to Roboform.

So Which Kinds of Entries Are Allowed?

When sweepstakes rules state that automatic entries are not allowed, they usually mean the first type of service outlined above, where a third party or a software program is entering for you, without you personally visiting the sweepstakes site each time.

Your browser's autofill and programs like Roboform are usually no problem since you are sitting at your screen and visiting the sponsor's website.

However, there is no consensus among sweepstakes sponsors about what exactly an automatic sweepstakes entry is. A few companies do include Roboform and browser autofill when they make automatic sweepstakes prohibitions. And it's not always easy to tell which is which.

To decide whether sponsors prohibit autofill as well as automatic entry services, you need to read the rules closely. Usually, automatic sweepstakes prohibitions will look something like this:

"The use of any automated launching or entry software or any other mechanical or electronic means that permits the participant to automatically register and/or enter repeatedly is prohibited and all such entries will be disqualified."
Source: Jose Ole Coolest Mom on Wheels Sweepstakes

Another variation looks like this:

"Entries made through any robotic, automatic, mechanical, programmed or similar entry duplication method are ineligible and will be disqualified."
Source: Ace Hardware Holiday Wish List Rules

Automatic entry services are definitely prohibited by those sweepstakes rules. For example, if you wrote a program that automatically filled out and submitted a bunch of sweepstakes entries for you while you washed the car or made breakfast, it would fall under the automatic sweepstakes rules.

For the most part, when you use the autofill feature of your browser, it's not considered as an automatic entry. After all, you visit the site, you see the advertising, you have the opportunity to explore the sponsor's offerings in more depth. What difference does it make to the sponsor if you type in the information or not? While specific sponsors may disagree, most do not consider an entry completed with autofill to be an automatic entry.

The exception comes when the rules look something like this:

"Every submission must be manually keystroked and manually entered by the individual participant and repetitive automated electronic submission of entries is specifically disallowed."
Source: Circuit City Drive to 65 Sweepstakes Rules

In this case, you have to type everything in yourself — no mechanical assistance is allowed.

What to Do When You're Not Sure

If you want to be absolutely sure to never fall under the automatic entry rules, you should type your entries into every giveaway that prohibits automatic prohibitions in its rules by hand.

However, if you do that, you'll fill out a lot of entry forms by hand that would have been perfectly allowable with the assistance of autofill or Roboform, dramatically increasing the time it takes you to enter. When you take longer to enter, you can enter fewer sweepstakes and your odds of winning drop.

Because there's no way to tell for sure which sponsors really don't like form-fillers, the small chance of being disqualified from very few sweepstakes where the sponsors disapprove of that kind of software is worth the benefit of being able to enter many more sweepstakes.

Of course, you don't want to enter in any way that clearly violates the rules. But it's not a bad idea to use an auto-fill program or your browser's autofill to enter sweepstakes that don't specify that entries must be manually keystroked.