Running an international publicity contest in Québec:
what are the new rules of the game?

By Geneviève Hallé-Désilets and Caroline Jonnaert[*]
Avocats, agents de brevets et de marques de commerce

On June 2, 2021, the Act respecting mainly the implementation of certain provisions of the Budget Speech of 10 March 2020[1] (the « Bill ») received Royal Assent. By amending the Act respecting lotteries, publicity contests and amusement machines[2] (the « Act »), the Bill brings a breath of fresh air to the Québec regulatory framework applicable to international publicity contests. What are the new rules of the game?

Legislative changes

International publicity contests[3] are those by which a company (regardless of the location of its main office) offers prizes to foreign participants, even if Quebecers may participate to such contests[4]. However, a publicity contest will not be considered « international » if, for example: (i) its entry form can only be obtained in Québec (for example, at an event held in Québec) ; or (ii) the main part of the commercial interests of the person for whom the contest is carried on are in Québec[5].

Since June 2, 2021, companies holding international publicity contests are no longer subject to the requirements imposed by the Régie des alcools, courses et jeux (the « Régie »). In particular, companies holding such contests are no longer required to file a publicity contest notice with the Régie[6], nor to pay the fees prescribed by the Act[7] (before the legislative changes, these fees were equivalent to 0.5% of the total value of the prizes to win).

A complex regulatory framework

These reliefs are welcomed in Québec, as they are deemed fair by enabling the participation of Quebecers in international publicity contests. Before these legislative changes, many multinationals excluded such participants from their publicity contests to avoid the requirements imposed by the Régie.

Despite these legislative amendments, caution must be exerted since other rules will continue to apply to international publicity contests if they involve participants located in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada. For example, provisions of the Criminal Code[8], the Competition Act[9] or the Charter of the French Language[10] (including those on the language of contracts) may apply depending on the circumstances. For more information on publicity contests, do not hesitate to contact the members of our Advertising and Marketing Law team.

CIPS, 2022.

*        Geneviève Hallé-Désilets is a lawyer and Caroline Jonnaert is a lawyer and trademark agent at ROBIC, L.L.P., a multidisciplinary firm of lawyers and patent and trademark agents.

[1]        Bill 82, 1st Sess. 42nd Leg.

[2]        An Act respecting lottery, publicity contests and amusement machines, RLRQ, c. L-6 (the « Act »).

[3]        “publicity contest” means a contest, a lottery scheme, a game, a plan or an operation which results in the awarding of a prize, carried on for the object of promoting the commercial interests of the person for whom it is carried on. », id., s. 1.

[4]        Id., s. 63.

[5]        Id., s. 62.

[6]        Id., s. 59 and Rules respecting publicity contests, c. L-6, r. 6, s. 2.

[7]        Act, s. 58.

[8]        See: Criminal Code, R.S.C. (1985), c. C-46, s. 206.

[9]        See: Competition Act, R.S.C. (1985), c. C-34, s. 74.06.

[10]       See: Charter of the French Language, RLRQ c. C-11, ss. 55 and 58.