Is the Domino’s Random Food Giveaway a Lottery?

Domino’s just launched a huge national advertising campaign promising random customers who place an order using Domino’s own delivery service a chance of receiving some additional free food items with their order.

Domino's free


According to the promotion, one in fourteen customers placing a delivery order will get a freebie along with the food they pay for.

Domino's free

There’s just one problem. Paying a price for the chance at a prize is considered an illegal lottery when conducted by a company even in this context. Oops.

But not so fast. In tiny print in their commercials and elsewhere, those magic words “no purchase necessary” appear as they are required to into order convert what would otherwise be an illegal lottery into a legitimate sweepstakes.


In the official rules, you can send in a request to get a game code by return mail.

B. Request a Code by Mail:
(i) During the Promotion Period, participate without purchase by requesting an entry code (“Code”) by hand printing your name, home mailing address, valid email address, and date of birth on a piece of paper and mailing it along with a self-addressed stamped envelope [emphasis added] in an envelope with proper postage to “Domino’s Surprise Frees Giveaway,” c/o Merkle, Inc., P.O. Box 5005, Department 848994, Kalamazoo, MI 49003-5005.

So, for your expenditure of $1.10 for postage both ways (soon $1.16), once you receive the code, you will have a 1-in-14 chance of winning an e-gift card worth $13.49.

For those who make purchases anyway from Domino’s, potentially getting free food with your order is a nice extra benefit. But for those who want to play the game for free, it is just a roll of the dice, so save the postage.

Google Ran An Illegal Lottery — And We Got Them to Stop

Last Wednesday evening, Google sent out an email to Google Assistant customers announcing a sweepstakes to win a free Google Home Max speaker.

Google email

To get your chance to win, you had to either buy a 2-pack of Google Home Minis smart speakers yourself (or anything else from the Google store), or get a friend to buy two using a special link that would secure your entry. At the bottom of the offer was a terms and conditions link with the contest rules.


Despite the rules saying multiple times “no purchase necessary” to enter the sweepstakes, they provided no free means of entry. You or someone else had to make a purchase for a chance to win. And that makes this an illegal lottery, against federal law and the gambling laws of virtually every state. “Paying a price for the chance of a prize” is the classic definition of a lottery. To convert an illegal lottery into a legal sweepstakes, the promoter must always include a free means of entry.

But Google didn’t do that.

We wrote to their PR folks about 12 hours after their email was sent, contacting both Google and its parent company, Alphabet, pointing out the problem and asking how they were going to remedy it. By that evening Google sent out a new email to customers entitled “Update to Home Max Sweepstakes.”

Google Revised Email

Miraculously, all mentions of a purchase being necessary disappeared from the promotion. And the sweepstakes rules were changed to include an additional alternate means of free entry.


Google updated sweepstakes rules

Did Google or Alphabet reply to our email, or even send a note of appreciation for getting them out of potential legal hot water? Nope.

Fly to Hawaii for $6 Roundtrip?

Arby’s is running a promotion offering 10 lucky people the chance to buy roundtrip tickets to Hawaii for only $6.

Arby's contest

There are two opportunities to enter the sweepstakes: last Friday, and today (April 15th) at noon Eastern time. You will be flown first to Los Angeles, spend a night in a hotel, and then the next day, you will be whisked off to Honolulu in either first or business class. All for only $6. What a deal.

Except for one thing in the official rules.

Mouse Print*:

official rules

Your flights to and from Hawaii have to occur on the same day – April 27th. That’s right. Your day in Hawaii starts out with six hours on a plane going there. Then visiting an Arby’s to try three of their new sandwiches and be in a television commercial. And then another six hours on a plane back to the mainland.

As their ad states, “no volcanoes, no pineapple farms… just you, sweet buns, tender meat.”

So, if this is your idea of a fun vacation, hope you’re one of the first five today to win the trip. And here’s one additional consumer tip: You can save the $6 on the ticket by entering the promo code “Aloha.”