The Province of Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada that administers a registration regime regulating contests and sweepstakes. Up until now, all publicity contests open to Quebec residents with prizing worth more than $100 have needed to be registered with the Régie des alcools des courses et des jeux (Régie). The Régie also required sponsors to pay non-refundable fees, calculated at 0.5% of the total prize value for international contests. These main Régie requirements were in addition to post-contest filing of winner information, and the obligation to post security with the Régie for high value prizes.
Unfortunately, these Régie rules were often perceived as too complicated for sponsors, particularly for those managing a global campaign. Many sponsors choose to simply void Quebec eligibility instead of engaging with the Régie’s registration process – much to the disappointment of potential entrants from Quebec.
Over the summer, the Quebec legislature quietly passed changes removing the application of these requirements to international contests. Now, contests/sweepstakes that are open to Quebec entrants are not subject to any of the Régie requirements if they are also open to entrants from outside of Canada. This means that no Régie registration or fees are required for international contests. The Régie requirements will unfortunately continue to apply to contests that are open in Quebec only, or that are open to Canadians but not internationally.
Be aware, however, that the Régie might continue to take jurisdiction over some international contests with stronger ties to Quebec, such as contests that can only be entered from within Quebec physically, like at an in-person event happening in Quebec. The Régie may also take jurisdiction if the sponsor’s primary commercial interests are in Quebec, regardless of international eligibility. Quebec’s French language laws are of course separate from this change, and continue to require contest rules, advertising and entry platforms to be translated into French for the Quebec market.
This is a big change for global contests and sweepstakes, and hopefully will ease the burden on international sponsors looking to crack into the Quebec market. If you have any questions about contest/sweepstake compliance, get in touch with Miller Thomson’s Marketing, Advertising & Product Compliance Group.