What AMOE Means and Why Sweepstakes Use Them

Different methods for entering sweepstakes
Some sweepstakes offer many alternate ways to enter. Image (c) chokkicx / Getty Images

Have you ever come across the term "AMOE" in sweepstakes rules and wondered what it meant? While the acronym might seem intimidating, the meaning is actually quite simple.

AMOE stands for "Alternate Method of Entry." It's used when sweepstakes have more than one way of accepting entries.

This is very handy for sweepstakes fans because you can use an AMOE to submit an entry into a giveaway when the primary entry method doesn't work for you. For example, if you can't get a form on a webpage to work, you could use the AMOE to enter by mail, if offered.

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.

Common AMOE's

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

  • Online entry forms
  • 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 easier for people to enter. Most companies want as many people as possible to enter.

But an important reason why many sweepstakes offer an AMOE has to do with consideration.

A giveaway cannot legally have all three of the following attributes:

  • A winner drawn by chance.
  • A prize that has value.
  • Consideration, or the exchange of money or something of value to enter.

For example, sweepstakes can't legally require people to spend money to enter. So if a sweepstakes has an entry method that involves any kind of monetary benefit for the company, like a purchase or donation, they must offer an alternate entry method.

The AMOE must also have exactly equal odds of winning as any other form of entry. The sponsor cannot offer two entries with a purchase but one entry by mail, for example.

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.

Consideration is a tricky issue because the money spent doesn't have to directly benefit the sponsoring company. It can be difficult to determine what exactly falls under consideration laws. Even internet access for online sweepstakes has been questioned.

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 AMOEs

 There are several 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. You are free to decide which entry method is most convenient for you.

How to Find Out Which AMOEs 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 hadn't been clear that a giveaway had a non-purchase entry method.