Contests or Sweepstakes in Canada

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What to know

  • Promotional contests or sweepstakes in Canada are contests or sweepstakes that are used to promote a product or business interest. In Quebec, promotional contests are referred to as publicity contests.
  • Promotional contests and sweepstakes are principally regulated by the federal Competition Act and the Criminal Code. Helpful information on how the Competition Act and the Criminal Code apply to promotional contests can be found in the Competition Bureau's information bulletin here. The Competition Act regulates promotional contests or sweepstakes in order to promote fair competition in the marketplace. The Criminal Code governs promotional contests or sweepstakes as part of its prohibition on lotteries or games of chance. Prohibitions on misleading advertising in provincial legislation also apply to promotional contests or sweepstakes.
  • Contests or sweepstakes in Canada must have a clear set of written rules that is not misleading. There are minimum disclosure requirements set out in the Competition Act. You can read more about these requirements in our article Promotional Contest Rules in Canada.
  • Contest or sweepstakes in Canada are prohibited by the Criminal Code from being solely based on chance or requiring a participant to pay money or other valuable consideration to participate. As a result, most contests include (i) an alternative method of entering that does not require a purchase, and (ii) a skills-testing question.
  • Quebec-relaxed-its-requirements-for-publicity-contests-01Quebec has its own rules that need to be considered if you want to run your contest or sweepstake there. It also has a dedicated regulator, the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (the "Régie"), which requires registration of a contest or sweepstake unless you fit within an exemption. To learn more, see our article Publicity Contests in Quebec.
  • If you are running a contest or sweepstake for your own employees, you will need to consider if the employees are being provided a taxable benefit.
  • Canada's data privacy and anti-spamming rules apply to any contest or sweepstake online. 

What to do

  • Make sure your contest or sweepstakes has:
    • a clear set of written rules that comply with the federal and provincial legislation,
    • an alternative method of entering that does not require a purchase, and
    • a standard skills-testing question.
  • If you are running a contest or sweepstakes in Quebec, you will need to either fit within an exemption to Quebec's rules or register with the Régie.
  • If you are running a contest or sweepstake for your employees, consider if your employees are receiving a taxable benefit.
  • You will need to make sure that your contest or sweepstake online complies with Canada's data privacy and anti-spamming legislation.

Further Resources

For information on the rules for promotional contests in Canada, see our article Promotional Contest Rules in Canada.

For information on the rules for publicity contests in Quebec, see our article Publicity Contests in Quebec.

For frequently-asked questions on promotional contests in Canada, see our article Promotional Contests in Canada: FAQs.

For information on how to run a promotional contest on Facebook or Instagram, see our article Contests on Facebook or Instagram.

For more information on how the Competition Act and the Criminal Code govern promotional contests, go to the Competition Bureau of Canada's information bulletin here.

Legal Information

Finally, a note on how you can use the information on this page. This information is not to be considered legal advice and is not a substitute for advice from qualified legal counsel. Material aspects of this information may change at any time and without further notice.

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