Running Promotions at Trade Shows can be Risky Business

Did you know that running a business card draw for a prize requires permits?

Don’t worry, most people don’t. Do many people do it, absolutely. After all, it’s a great way to obtain valuable data.

Did lots of companies do it at the recent Baby & Toddler Show, of course. Did representatives of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) turn up at the expo, you betcha. Did they issue cautions to non-compliant companies – YES, YES and YES.

These cautions were issued because organisations failed to obtain permits for their prize draws. According to the guidelines issued by NSW OLGR, it is an offence to conduct a trade promotion lottery (even one as simple or as small at as a business card draw) without a permit in NSW. You also need Terms and Conditions covering the details of the competition.

OLGR have these trade shows on their radar. I met with them a few months ago in my capacity as a board member for my industry body and we discussed this exact thing. They are also on the lookout for Facebook breaches regarding promotions and competitions and have additional resources to ensure compliance. As you can image it is likely that inspectors could visit future expos, particularly given how easy it would be to visit many organisations at the one location.

The main difference between a game of skill and a game of chance is the fact that a judged competition requires no element of chance, meaning there is a clear determinable winner from a judged component such as literary or creative merit. As soon as there are two possible winners, you flick to a game of chance. Even a guessing game needs to have rules around what happens if there are two correct guesses (some sort of tie-breaker).

So what can you do? There are several things:

• Obtain a one-off permit for the activity
• Obtain Blanket Permits which can cover 12 months of activity
• Conduct a game of skill (judged)
• Ask for business cards without the added incentive of a prize draw
• OR JUST DON’T DO IT!

Rules vary by state so be sure to check with your local governing body for legislation in your area.

If you want help to determine how you can run your promotions, call a reputable agency or lawyer for advice and remember guidelines change all the time so its best to be up to date with the latest information from a reliable source.