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The Assembly has approved legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Jack Conners aimed at protecting unsuspecting consumers by establishing certain guidelines and restrictions on the operation of sweepstakes in New Jersey, an industry that is currently unregulated.

“A vast number of sweepstakes target our state’s most vulnerable residents in an effort to take advantage of them,” said Conners (D-Burlington/Camden). “This measure will help pull back the veil and expose predatory scams for what they are.”

The bill (A-2402), which was approved by a vote of 74 – 4, would require solicitation materials for sweepstakes to contain simple, clear, understandable, and easily readable language, including several disclosures. The required disclosures would be required to include information about the value of the prizes; the odds and conditions necessary to receive a prize, including the number of prizes available and the fact that no purchase is necessary to win; the winners; the sponsor of the sweepstakes; specially selected entries; and the official rules.

The bill also prohibits, among other things, a sweepstakes sponsor from requiring individuals to pay money as a condition for winning a prize; giving an advantage to an entry accompanied by an order for goods or services; and charging any amount for shipping and handling.

The provisions of the bill would fall under the state’s consumer fraud act and anyone found in violation would be liable to a penalty of up to $10,000 for the first offense and up to $20,000 for the second and each subsequent offense. Additionally, a violation can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

The bill now awaits action by the Senate.