Promotional Competitions

Although promotional competitions are a form of lottery, since April 2011 they have been governed by the Consumer Protection Act (No 68 of 2008) and not the Lotteries Act. However, the National Lotteries Commission remains responsible for monitoring compliance of competition promoters with the provisions of the law.

 

In terms of the Consumer Protection Act, a promotional competition is “any competition, game, scheme, arrangement, system, plan or device for distributing prizes by lot or chance if (1) it is conducted in the ordinary course of business for the purpose of promoting a producer, distributor, supplier or association of any such persons, or the sale of any goods or services (2) any prize offered exceeds (the amount specified in regulations)”.

 

This definition of a promotional competition applies regardless of whether participants need to demonstrate any skill or ability in order to win a prize. The Consumer Protection Act sets out basic rules for the running of promotional competitions in Section 36. These are summarised below.

Ban on misleading communication

This ban is aimed at marketing campaigns which use fictitious competitions as a way to lure members of the public to purchase their products.

The Act prohibits informing another person that s/he has won a competition if:

  • No competition has in fact been held.
  • The person has not in fact won a competition.
  • The prize is subject to conditions that have not been previously disclosed.
  • The person has to make a payment or purchase (after the announcement of the results) to secure the prize.

It also prohibits informing anyone that s/he has a right to a prize if:

  • S/he has no such right.
  • The prize is available to all people in a similar situation to the individual.
  • The individual must make a payment or purchase to receive the prize.
Prohibition of payment to participate

There must be no payment required for people to participate in a promotional competition beyond the standard cost of the postage, SMS or other means of sending the entry. There should be no entry fee and no requirement that individuals purchase a particular product in order to enter.

Restriction on prize winners

A competition promoter may not award a prize to a winner if it is unlawful to supply the relevant goods or services to that individual. For example, a prize of alcohol could not be awarded to someone under the age of 18 years.
A competition promoter may not award a prize to a range of business associates specified in the Act.

Responsibility to publish rules and other details

A competition promoter must develop rules for the competition, supply a copy of these rules to the National Consumer Commission, provide copies to members of the public on request and retain a copy after the end of the competition.

Communication inviting participation in a competition must tell the public:

  • How they stand to benefit and what to do to enter.
  • The closing date of the competition.
  • How the results will be determined and made known.
  • Where the rules can be obtained and prizes claimed.
Rights of participants

An individual has a full right to participate in a promotional competition as soon as s/he complies with conditions for entry (if there are any) and acquires or accesses the medium through which participation occurs.

A winner has the right to the benefit – or prize –as soon as the results are determined and the award of the prize may not be subject to any further conditions or requirements, or payment of any kind.

For full details see Section 36 of the Consumer Protection Act

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