Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Drawings, giveaways
have to be free

Question: Is there some type of ruling, ordinance or law that allows a merchant to require customers to make a purchase before entering their giveaway/drawing? I asked for an entry form from Zippy's for their current contest and the clerk told me I had to buy a plate lunch and a large beverage in order to enter. What's up with that?

Answer: The state law on gambling, which covers this kind of activity, is the exact opposite of what you're asking -- a merchant cannot require a purchase for participation in a drawing or giveaway.

But Zippy's says there must have been a miscommunication because its contest rules clearly stated that no purchase was necessary to participate in its recent Pepsi promotion, in which prizes included $10,000 and trips to Las Vegas.

However, by not making a purchase, you had to mail in your own entry form -- a 3-inch-by-5-inch card with your full name, address, age and phone number handwritten on the card -- to Zippy's, said Jeanine Mamiya-Kalahiki, Zippy's marketing manager.

She said that's a standard practice for people who enter such contests without making a purchase.

Without knowing details of your experience, Mamiya-Kalahiki could only surmise that the clerk "didn't explain everything" about the rules to you, leading to the miscommunication.

After hearing your complaint, she wondered which Zippy's restaurant was involved, wanting to make sure that all workers could explain what's required when no purchase is made.

Meanwhile, officer Randall Stovall, of the Honolulu Police Department's gambling detail, explained that for a business or organization to hold a drawing for a prize or whatever, "There has to be no purchase necessary."

Groups will often ask for a "donation" to participate in a raffle or drawing or even to play bingo, which is acceptable, he said.

"But if someone walks in and says, 'I don't have any money, but I want to participate,' (the organizers) are obligated to let them participate with just as much chance of winning the same prize as someone who makes a donation," Stovall said.

IRS reminder

The IRS is reminding taxpayers who opted for automatic extensions that their time is almost up. About 38,000 Hawaii taxpayers are among 8.5 million who need to file their Form 4868 by Aug. 15.

The penalty for filing late is 5 percent per month of the unpaid tax.

However, taxpayers still may be granted an additional two-month extension because of "special circumstances."

The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers with extensions to file their returns by Aug. 15 to avoid the late filing penalty, which is 5 percent per month of the unpaid tax. Help may be available, however, for people who cannot file by Aug. 15. But they must file Form 2688 by Aug. 15. The form is available on the Web site, or by calling (800) 829-1040 .

The IRS expects to receive more than 3 million of the forms this year.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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