I am translating a website and sweepstakes is a difficult word for me to be confident in translating. Does anyone have any suggestions? I was contemplating between lotería or sorteo?

  • You may need to specify which country this is for as the term can have different meanings in different dialects of English.
    – mdewey
    Jan 12, 2017 at 10:00
  • sweepstakes is the same across all varieties of English.
    – Lambie
    Apr 21, 2021 at 18:37

3 Answers 3


I think both of your proposals are good but I favor more sorteo over lotería because sorteo is more or less "we draw a winner from all the participants" but "lotería" has some connotations of a ticket you buy directly with money in order to participate in a "sorteo" of some kind to win the price.

In a regular "sorteo" you may enter just by sending a proof of purchase from an item (and I believe this is the term most companies use for these kind of rewards system with their products).

Anyway, I'm sure that if we check their definitions in the DRAE, "lotería" uses "sorteo" and "sorteo" uses "lotería".

By reading the wikipedia description of "sweepstakes" I see that the term was coined for legal reasons. Thus, in other countries the terms sorteo or lotería de premios will do for the kind of contest a sweepstakes is.

  • 1
    sorteo and lotería may be similar actions, but lotería has another connotations: usually denotes a legalized government gambling (authorized or even organized by the government), and also is associated with prizes in metallic, rather than goods.
    – roetnig
    Jan 16, 2017 at 15:55
  • To extend my comment, spanish gambling law (Ley del Juego) define different terms.. Lotería , Rifa, Apuesta, Concurso España, Ley 13/2011 de regulación del juego, definiciones
    – roetnig
    Jan 16, 2017 at 16:02
  • @roetnig Just to clarify "metallic" doesn't have the same meaning in English, the customary word in English is "cash". Metallic only refers to something metal-like.
    – John D
    Jan 17, 2017 at 23:55
  • @JohnD ops, sorry.. I was thinking in spanish at that moment ;). Yes, lotería prizes use to be in cash.
    – roetnig
    Jan 18, 2017 at 8:51

In Mexico the word you would need is sorteo. This is the word used by government and universities among others. The prize can be an item or money. Here you usually pay a certain amount of money to get an entry.

If you receive and entry or an opportunity to participate in exchange of buying something it is also called sorteo.

The term loteria is used by the nationwide drawing that is held once or twice a week. The price is always a large quantity of money.

Sorteo and loteria are regulated by law. So they have to be registered.

For informal sweepstakes we have the word rifa that is closer to raffle in English.

Some, to prevent legal issues avoid using any of the aforementioned words and provide texts saying things like:

XXX obsequiará YYY a la persona que ZZZ

  • In Mexico, at least, lotería also refers to a fairly common children's game similar to American "bingo", where players match cards drawn from a deck with pictures, to win prizes, or just for fun.
    – cuevero
    Apr 21, 2021 at 20:13
  • If the OP is translating a UK source then rifa is the closest although does not have quite the same ring.
    – mdewey
    Apr 24, 2021 at 15:08

In the US you never have to buy something or pay to enter a sweepstakes. It is however optional in some sweeps. So of those choices posted here I guess I would prefer loteria de premios.

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