Skill Testing Question in Game Promotions

Being specialists in games, contests and sweepstakes promotions, and with a head office in Canada, WSP is all too familiar with Skill Testing Question requirement by winners to receive a prize. If you’ve ever won a prize in Canada, or if you’ve ran a sweepstakes at your company, you may be familiar with the concept, but have you ever wondered why it’s needed?

Why is a Skill Testing Question Required?

The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits all games of chance (Ex. a scratch & win card) or any game of mixed chance and skill (Ex. Kick a football to win a million dollars), if a contestant is required to pay money or give valuable consideration in order to play. That is because the three components that make up a lottery are prize, chance and consideration – and in order to run a lottery you must purchase a lottery license. However, if you remove one of these components – prize, chance or consideration – you are able to avoid being classified as a lottery. And that’s where the skill testing question comes in to play.  To eliminate the component of chance, a skill testing question can be implemented to ‘test the winner’s skill’, making the game one that requires some skill rather than a game of chance.

However, a good contest administrator (like us!) will remove two of the three lottery components, eliminating chance and consideration. To remove consideration, we add a “No Purchase Necessary to Enter” portion in our contests. Entrants then have an alternative way to participate in the contest without having to make a purchase.

In the US, contest administrators only eliminate the component of consideration by using no purchase means; skill testing questions are not common practice or widely accepted.

What is Required in a Skill Testing Question?

The Canadian courts have agreed that a four or three part mathematical question is considered a test of skill and the correct answer must be obtained without using a calculating device (though policing this in the age of smartphones is a tough one!)  But if you don’t want to break out your algebra, you can also test entrants based on their skills and therefore the contest would be defined as a pure-skill game. An example of a pure-skill game would be a jelly bean counting contest, to see who can closely estimate the correct amount of jelly beans in a jar.


So the next time you win a bag of chips in a WSP game promotion, don’t get upset if we’re putting your grade 5 math skills to a test!  We’re just trying to stay out of contest jail!

For more information on Canadian offences in relation to lotteries and games of chance, check out section 206 of the Criminal Code of Canada: