What Does AMOE Mean, and Why Do Sweepstakes Have Them?

Everything You Need to Know about AMOEs

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

What Is an AMOE? Here's the Definition:

AMOE stands for "Alternate Method of Entry." It 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 photograph on Instagram to enter online, but if you don't want to share a picture, you can use an AMOE to enter by mail.

Also Known As: alternate method of entry, alternate means of entry, alternate entry, alternate entry methods

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."

What Are Some Common AMOEs?

There are a number of ways that sponsors can accept entries into sweepstakes today. A few of the common AMOEs include:

  • 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

Why Do Sweepstakes Offer an AMOE, or Alternate Method of Entry?

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 spend 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, :

"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.

Should You Use AMOEs to Enter Sweepstakes?

 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.

How Will You Know When an AMOE Is 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 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.