Why Are So Many Sweepstakes Void in Quebec?

Quebec's Sweepstakes Law's Effect on Whether Residents Can Enter to Win

Porte St Louis wall,Quebec City
Many sweepstakes close their gates to residents of Quebec. Here's why. Peter Unger / Getty Images

If you love to enter sweepstakes and contests but live in Quebec, you might feel frustrated when you find out you're prohibited from entering. Many Canadian sweepstakes are void in Quebec — in other words, residents of the province are not allowed to enter.

So why are so many contests void in Quebec?

Almost a third of the population of Canada lives in Quebec, so companies have a powerful reason to want to include them in their marketing campaigns. Why don't sweepstakes sponsors want residents of Quebec to enter them?

Why Many Companies Exclude Quebec Because of its Sweepstakes Laws

Companies don't exclude residents of Quebec from sweepstakes because they don't want to advertise in Quebec or because they have anything against the residents of that province.

The reason why so many sweepstakes are void in Quebec is that the sponsors must follow a stringent set of laws set out by Quebec's Regie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ), which governs alcohol, lotteries, contests, gambling, and more.

Quebec's sweepstakes laws are designed to protect its residents from scammers , to ensure there's a level playing field, and to guarantee that prizes are awarded as promised. Which, of course, is a good goal for them to have.

However, those robust consumer protections cost sweepstakes sponsors money and resources that they might not have available to spend on the giveaway. Furthermore, the consequences of running afoul of those laws, even by mistake, are severe.

For example, for sweepstakes with prizes worth more than a certain value to be open to residents of Quebec, the companies sponsoring the sweepstakes must take some or all of the following steps:

  • Register the sweepstakes rules and all advertisements used to promote the contest with the Quebec government at least 30 days ahead of the sweepstakes' launch.
  • Publish the full text of the sweepstakes' rules at least 10 days before the giveaway begins.
  • Pay a fee of up to 10% of the sweepstakes' value, depending on who is allowed to enter.
  • Agree to allow the government of Quebec to mediate any lawsuits arising from the contest.
  • Follow strict guidelines about the contents of the sweepstakes rules.
  • Allow the government of Quebec the right to approve any changes that need to be made once the contest has started, and to approve canceling the giveaway if it becomes necessary to do so.
  • File a written report after the contest has concluded, attesting that the prizes have been delivered or attempted to be delivered.
  • Agree to let the RACJ mediate any disagreements with the public.
  • File security in the amount of the prize value, to ensure that the prizes are actually awarded.
  • Offer the sweepstakes rules in French as well as English.
  • Follow a number of other rules and guidelines listed under Quebec's Sweepstakes Laws.

These requirements are more difficult to follow than those of other Canadian provinces, as well as most areas of the United States.

Imagine the cost for a company based in Florida to litigate disputes about their giveaway in Quebec, for example. For a small company, those costs might not be worth the additional marketing exposure in Quebec.

In addition, not following the law to the letter results in hefty fines or even criminal charges. Especially for smaller companies with a limited budget and a small (or non-existent) legal team, the advantages of allowing residents of Quebec to enter are often outweighed by the potential downfalls. 

Rather than risking fines or legal action if complicated sweepstakes laws are not followed to the letter, many sponsors take the easier route : making their contests and sweepstakes void in Quebec.

If You're a Resident of Quebec...

If you live in Quebec, you have the peace of mind of knowing that the contests that are open to you are carefully regulated and that you're assured of being treated fairly, especially when big prizes are up for grabs. That might not be a big consolation when you can't enter a giveaway you trust and really want to win, but it does significantly reduce your risk of being scammed.

Most of these provisions only apply to giveaways where the total prize value exceeds a certain dollar amount, so companies offering smaller giveaways may be more likely to allow residents of Quebec to enter. It might be worth your time to focus on looking for smaller giveaways.

Remember, it's particularly important for residents of Quebec to read the sweepstakes' rules to ensure that you're eligible to enter. Otherwise, you could be wasting valuable time on giveaways that you can't win.

If you are a resident of Quebec and don't like these restrictions, the RACJ does have a website where you can register comments and inquiries.

Additionally, there are local giveaways and contests that specifically target residents of Quebec. Not only are you eligible to enter those, but your chances of winning are usually higher.