Our Canadian readers are well familiar with the “challenging” question that is asked of anyone who wants to take part in, say, the latest Tim Hortons win-free-donuts-for-life sweepstakes. American Flossers who read the fine print on U.S. contest forms will also notice the proviso: “Canadian residents will be required to answer a skill-testing question.” So why do those living above the 49th parallel have to jump through such hoops to win a prize?
It all has to do with laws, and loopholes. The Canadian Competition Act bans all games of chance, with the exception of provincial lotteries and those held at licensed casinos. Contest officials figured out long ago that if they require a correct answer to a tricky question as part of their entry, their sweepstakes is no longer considered a game of chance.
Even though the Canadian government isn’t too sticky about the rule, they do draw the line at “no brainer”-type questions, like “What is your birthday?”, and they also require that math questions contain at least three operations and must be solved without using any calculating devices. Most contests have you solve a basic equation, such as “What is (5 X 4) -10?” We’ll let you test your knowledge and answer that problem on your own, no purchase required.