When running sweepstakes in Canada, it is crucial to know Canadian sweepstakes law. In addition, Quebec has its own set of regulations regarding sweepstakes, requiring a stricter set of guidelines that need following that further complicate things. Thankfully National Sweepstakes Company (NSC) is here to help.

We take all the guesswork out of hosting Canadian sweepstakes, structuring them to comply with the federal Competition Act and Criminal Code and the additional rules and requirements of the Régie. We can also help with entry collection, winner selection and notification, prize fulfillment, and international promotions.

Canadian Sweepstakes Law

Canadian sweepstakes law differs in a few ways from sweepstakes law in the United States. The following are a few things you will need to consider when running your sweepstakes in Canada.

Skill-Testing Questions

In Canada, games of pure chance are considered an illegal lottery under the country’s Criminal Code. Illegal lotteries include sweepstakes with a random winner chosen from a pool of participants. A skill-testing question for Canadian winners is required to ensure compliance.

Crafting a Proper Skill-Testing Question

There is a fine line between a skill-testing question that is easy enough for everyone to solve and a question that is too simple to require any skill to answer. Generally, an easy math question is enough to do the trick and meet the minimum skill level requirements to satisfy Canadian law.

Courts in Canada have agreed that four-part math problems qualify as a skill test, as long as a participant does not use a calculator to solve it.

The requirement to have skill-testing questions for sweepstakes has come under fire in the past, criticized as unfair for people with learning disabilities or dyscalculia. Others argue that most skill-testing questions are too easy, requiring no aptitude to solve.

No matter which side you are on, Canadian law requires all sweepstakes to be games of mixed skill and chance, meaning games of pure chance are still illegal lotteries.

If you have any questions or concerns about requiring a skill-testing question in your sweepstakes, National Sweepstakes Company is more than happy to answer them. We can also help you craft the perfect mathematical skill-testing question to satisfy Canadian sweepstakes law and administer that to the winners.


Canada also prohibits sweepstakes that require consideration, or payment, to enter. The code includes requiring actions with a monetary value, like watching a video or completing a survey. If a participant has to give up something of value to enter, it is deemed a consideration.

No Purchase Necessary

Suppose you wish to utilize a video, survey, or another method of entry. In that case, you must also include a “no purchase necessary” option (or AMOE) for people to enter, usually via a mail-in entry form. In addition, these entries must not have any disadvantage against those entries gained via other methods.

Disclosure and Informed Consent

Under Canada’s Competition Act, all sweepstakes must have a written set of official rules. These rules must at least include the minimum disclosure requirements set out in the act. In addition, Canada’s privacy laws state that collecting any personal information for marketing purposes requires informed consent.

Do Not Forget Quebec

Quebec makes up 25% of Canada’s population and has its own laws concerning sweepstakes. If you want to include Quebec in your sweepstakes, you may need to register with the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ). The government of Quebec established this board to regulate promotional contests, alcohol, gambling, racing, and combat sports industries. Registration includes translating the rules and advertising of your sweepstakes into French and paying duty to the Régie.  We can facilitate this for you similarly to how we facilitate bonds and registrations for US based games of chance.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation is a strict set of regulations around collecting email addresses and sending emails. As in the United States, the act’s core prohibits sending commercial electronic messages to a person without their express permission. The act requires implied consent before emailing any marketing or commercial emails to an individual’s email address.

What does this mean for your sweepstakes? First, you cannot advertise your sweepstakes or send any emails to your participants unless they specifically say you may. There also may be complications using the popular “refer-a-friend” tactics to gain more entries to your sweepstakes or as a method to generate more email addresses for your list.  We’ll walk you through what you need to do.

Penalties for violating CASL are strict:

  • Administrative Monetary Penalties. Fines up to one million dollars for an individual and up to ten million for a corporation per violation.
  • Vicarious liability. A corporate directory may be liable for the illegal acts of a corporation or organization. A corporation may be responsible for the criminal actions of its employees.
  • Private rights of action. Individuals can sue an individual or organization for damages if they inflict actual harm or loss after receiving an unsolicited, unwanted electronic communication. However, an individual cannot sue an organization if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has already taken action against it.

Your Canadian Sweepstakes from Start to Finish

Whether you are looking to run Canadian sweepstakes from inside Canada or you wish to run international sweepstakes in the United States and Canada, National Sweepstakes Company can help you from start to finish. We offer turnkey solutions for brands, agencies, and small businesses looking to use sweepstakes to increase brand awareness, gather essential consumer information, and motivate participants to visit their businesses.

Our legal professionals know the ins and outs of Canadian sweepstakes law, including regulations specific to Quebec. If you are ready to launch your sweepstakes in Canada, give us a call at (888) 744-3217 for a free quote or fill out our contact form online.

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