Coinbase Sued For Misleading Sweepstakes Advertising – Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment

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Coinbase Sued For Misleading Sweepstakes Advertising

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A class action lawsuit has been brought against
Coinbase Global, Inc. (“Coinbase”) and Marden-Kane, Inc.
(“MKI”) (collectively the “Plaintiffs”) for
allegedly engaging in false, deceptive and misleading sweepstakes
advertising. Coinbase, one of the largest online
cryptocurrency exchanges, hired MKI to design, market and execute a
$1.2 million “Dogecoin Sweepstakes,” beginning on June 3,

The complaint alleges that in order to enter the sweepstakes,
users had to buy or sell $100 in Dogecoin by June 10, 2021, for a
chance to win a cash prize. Although they did provide an
alternative, free means of entry, or AMOE, it is also alleged that
Plaintiffs specifically designed their email and website
advertising to prevent users from finding the AMOE information. The
class is claiming that if the AMOE option had been disclosed
properly to them, they would not have given Coinbase $100, or paid
Coinbase any commission to acquire Dogecoins.

The “Dogecoin Sweepstakes” is yet another example of how sweepstakes
advertising claims may lead to litigation and cause reputational

What are some sweepstakes advertising best practices?

Sweepstakes Advertising

Typically, the goal of sweepstakes advertising is to generate
excitement among consumers and increase company revenue. Whether it
is the McDonalds Monopoly sweepstakes or Publishers Clearing House
offering cash for life, businesses must adhere to state and federal
laws, rules and regulations when sponsoring sweepstakes

In the case at hand, some consumers felt that they were misled
in how Coinbase marketed its sweepstakes promotion.

Failing to include certain necessary disclaimers and disclosures
can land your sweepstakes contest in hot water. Some specific
disclosures that all sweepstakes promotions should include are:

  1. language explaining that no purchase is necessary for entry, and that
    any such purchase will not increase the consumer’s odds of
    winning a prize;

  2. start and end dates;

  3. eligibility requirements, such as minimum age and states where
    entry is prohibited; and

  4. the odds of winning a prize.

Placing the aforementioned disclaimers and disclosures in a
prominent location in sweepstakes advertising are necessary steps
in running a compliant sweepstakes promotion.

Additional Compliance

Depending on jurisdiction, registration and bonding may be
required prior to commencing a sweepstakes promotion. For example,
in Florida and New York, sweepstakes that have an aggregate prize
value in excess of $5,000 must be registered and bonded. In Rhode
Island, the prize threshold for registration is $500, but there is
no bonding requirement and registration only applies to contests
conducted by brick-and-mortar businesses in connection with a
retail outlet.

After selecting a winner, the sweepstakes sponsor must notify
the winning entrant(s). The winner(s) may be required to complete
an affidavit of eligibility, any applicable tax forms, and a
publicity release. Prize winners should not be charged fees to
claim their prizes, including any shipping or handling. In
addition, certain state agencies require that an official
winners’ list be filed within a statutorily defined period of
time after prizes have been awarded.

Consult a Sweepstakes Attorney

Sweepstakes advertising is a highly regulated area that may
appear simple at first blush. Unfortunately, as many sweepstakes
sponsors have learned throughout the years, this is anything but
the case. As such, businesses should seek counsel before running
any sweepstakes promotion in order to avoid the many regulatory and
legal pitfalls that await them.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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