A sweepstakes is a legal contest or game where anything of value is distributed by lot or chance. Federal legislation and state laws govern sweepstakes. The federal "Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act" prohibits the mailing of deceptive material relating to sweepstakes, skill contests, facsimile checks, and mailings made to look like government documents. The Act requires certain disclosures and is limited to mailed solicitations which provide an opportunity to enter a contest or sweepstakes.
They began to appear in the Southern United States some time around , and quickly proliferated. Results are often presented using mechanisms that resemble casino games , such as slots , and the facility itself may contain casino motifs in their overall decor. There is controversy associated with the operation of such businesses and whether or not they violate anti-gambling laws.