What It Was, and What Happened to It

Looking Back at the Directory

Sweepstakes directories are a great way to find lots of sweepstakes to enter. Image (c) CulturaRM / Alys Tomlinson / Getty Images, also known as OLS, was a long-running site where people could find and enter online sweepstakes. Unfortunately, it went offline in 2020, after a long decline, and hasn't come back since. This followed years of less and less engagement from the site's owner, where customer support requests went unanswered and features stagnated. was a sweepstakes directory offering an easy-to-use listing of giveaways to enter and a busy forum where members could exchange tips, ask for help getting votes for contests, and cheer each others' successes. Visit their website.

OLS was founded by Brent Riley in 1997, and it grew into one of the largest sweepstakes listings online. It had a bare-bones look to it, without splashy graphics. This helped the sweepstakes to load quickly and makes it easy to focus on the goal: to win prizes.

It was mainly run by a series of volunteers. Sweepstakes were collated by site users and by sponsoring companies, then put into the OLS format and approved by volunteer moderators.

Ongoing Technical Problems with Memberships

On March 7, 2019, a long-time Online-Sweepstakes moderator, KBSocial, made a post on the site's forums that stated that owner Brent Riley was unreachable and that the only other person who could approve paid subscriptions made through PayPal had left the company.

That resulted in people making payments through PayPal, but not receiving their premium membership benefits, including access to most of the listed sweepstakes.

Brent posted an apology the same day promising to make things right but did not give any clear information about the future of the website. Memberships continued to go uncredited. The owner posted sporadic messages saying that things would be fixed, but this never happened.

Although moderators continued to list sweepstakes and moderate the forums, eventually the site simply stopped loading without a word from the owner.

For anyone who paid but didn't receive a premium membership, the OLS moderators recommended that you make a complaint through PayPal to receive a refund of your money. offers a large directory of sweepstakes broken down into convenient groups, to make finding and entering them easier.

The contest listings are updated daily, and there are usually dozens of new listings each day.

As a premium member, you can mark which sweepstakes you've entered and when, and you can use the MySweeps feature to get a convenient list of the sweepstakes you want to enter each day/week/etc.

You can also view expired sweepstakes, to get information on giveaways that have ended already (handy if you happen to win one).

How Were Giveaways Listed on

The giveaways listed in's directory were provided by the site's users — both individuals who wanted to share and track the contests they enter and sweepstakes sponsors who wanted to promote their giveaways.

Adding sweepstakes was done via an online form. The quality of the submissions varied greatly, with some people providing great summaries and others leaving out information. That's where the moderators came in.

The many sweepstakes provided by fans and the dedicated work of the moderators was the reason why OLS was able to provide so many high-quality giveaway listings for so long.

Free vs. Premium Membership at

Online-Sweepstakes did offer a free subscription, but its most attractive features were available only with a paid membership.

Premium-only features included:

  • Access to premium and basic sweepstakes (moderators decide which sweepstakes are classified as premium-only).
  • Access to new sweepstakes as they were added, rather than having to wait for a moderator to classify them.
  • The ability to save an unlimited number of sweepstakes to enter in the "MySweeps" section.
  • The "Shazaam" feature, which opened many sweepstakes in new windows or browser tabs.
  • The ability to see when you last entered a giveaway and how often you entered it.
  • Advanced forum features.
  • No advertising displayed on the site.
  • And other bonuses.

Was a Premium Membership Worthwhile?

Before its close, memberships only cost $30 a year. Most dedicated sweepstakes fans would easily earn that much in prizes over the course of the year. However, the same sweepstakes were also available for free from other sweepstakes directories.

Many people thought the additional benefits, like the forum and the ability to track your entered sweepstakes, merited the relatively low annual fee.

Criticism of

In its long history, Online-Sweepstakes built a devoted group of followers, but it also had some haters (as most sites that have been around since the 90s have). There have been complaints filed against the company and against its owner.

Some members have complained that promised updates were not made on time (or ever), and that the time to check and verify posted sweepstakes took too long.

Disclosure: I was a premium member of for many years. No incentive or compensation has been given to me from Online-Sweepstakes for writing this overview.