UPDATED JULY 2019
Competition permits (or licences) are something we’re asked about on an almost daily basis. It’s seen as a confusing minefield to be negotiated carefully, in case our best laid plans are blown to smithereens. The good news is that whilst some Australian states do still require licences in order to run a ‘trade promotion’ as they’re officially called here in Australia, many states have relaxed their laws regarding competitions, so it’s easier than ever to apply for competition licences.
What isn’t easy, however, is navigating government websites, so we’ve done the running around redirects, toured the states (virtually of course), busted the jargon and simplified the process to bring you a quick, one page guide to competition licensing; so you can work out in two minutes or less whether you need a competition permit or not.
Do you need a licence or permit for your competition in Australia?
It all starts a simple enough question – is your competition a game of chance or a game of skill?
A game of chance is where you pick your winner at random from a pool of entrants, chance partly or wholly determines the winner. In a game of skill, however, entrants display a certain level of skill and the winner is picked by a judge or panel of judges or weighed up against a set of criteria and the skill they display in their entry determines whether or not they are crowned the winner.
Once you’ve determined if yours is a game of chance or skill…
Games of skill do not require a licence here in Australia, or indeed in many countries around the world, but games of chance on the other hand, may require a competition licence.
The next step in determining whether your game of chance will need a licence is to work out whether you’ll open your competition Australia-wide, or just to a specific state or territory. Remember that the criteria for needing a licence depends on who your competition is open to, not where your business is based – and if your competition is open to New South Wales (NSW), you will need a competition permit regardless of your prize or prize value.
Work out your total prize pool value.
When we talk about ‘prize pool value’ we mean the total value of all the prizes you’re giving away during the competition – from the runner up prizes right up to the main/hero prize.
If the total prize pool is over $5,000, you may also need a licence in South Australia (SA).
Now wasn’t that easier that attempting to understand eight different state governments’ websites? If you found that your competition will need a permit or licence, don’t stress.
Because we’re super nice and exist to make your life easier, below you’ll find links to each state’s licensing site. We’d always recommend you take a quick squiz at the websites (hyperlinked below, of course) to make sure the information and application forms are the most up to date versions. The best way to do this is to check the version number of the form or factsheet.
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New South Wales (NSW)
If you are running a game of chance competition that’s open to NSW residents (regardless of where your business is based), you currently need a licence. There is talk of this changing, however as of July 2019, there has been no further updates. To be notified as soon as this changes, make sure you subscribe to our monthly competition newsletter.
Trade promotion lotteries are managed by Fair Trading in NSW, where you can find out more about whether you’ll need one, how much it will cost you and how to apply.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
If your prize or total prize pool for your game of chance is valued at $3,000 or over, you will also need a licence if your competition is open to residents of ACT. In this state, licences are managed by the Gambling and Racing Commission where you can find out more information and learn how to apply.
South Australia (SA)
If your prize or prize pool totals $5,000 or over, is a game of chance and is open to residents of South Australia, you will need to apply for a licence for SA. The managing body for this state is Consumer and Business Services and you can find out whether you’ll need one, how much it’ll cost you and how to apply on their website.
Northern Territory (NT)
A licence may be required in NT if your prize is worth more than $5,000 and is open exclusively to NT residents (and you therefore have no valid licences from other states). Otherwise, if the prize is over $5,000 and you have a valid licence from another state, the Northern Territory Government, who oversees trade lotteries and permits states that:
“A business needs a permit to run an interstate trade lottery if it does not already have a permit from another state.”
That means if you already have a valid licence from SA, ACT or NSW for the same promotion, you will not need an additional licence from the NT government. You can find out more about running trade promotions open to NT residents via the link.
Competitions are referred to as Category 4 promotional games (trade promotions) by the Queensland Government and do not require a licence:
“Category 4 promotional games (trade promotions)
These are free entry draws conducted to promote goods or services
Any person may conduct a promotional game; however, they are normally conducted by businesses to promote the sale of products
Read the Guide to category 4 promotional games
Does not require a licence”
You can read their guide and find out more on their website here.
If your game of chance competition is open to Victorian residents, you are not required to apply for a licence or permit according to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation website:
“Do I need a permit if my trade promotion lottery is conducted in other jurisdictions?
You aren’t required to submit an application for a permit to conduct a trade promotion lottery in Victoria. If your trade promotion lottery will be conducted in other jurisdictions, it is best to check directly with the relevant regulatory authorities to ensure you continue to meet their conditions.”
You can find all of the information about running trade promotion lotteries open to residents of VIC here.
Western Australia (WA)
The Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia states that as long as you meet requirements around the cost of entry, you do not need a licence:
“You are automatically covered by a permit if your trade promotion lottery complies with the prescribed terms and conditions. You do not have to apply. However, if your trade promotion lottery does not comply, you will need to apply for this permit.”
To find out if your competition meets their criteria, download information sheets and apply for a permit if you do not meet the criteria, head to their website.
According to the Department of Treasury and Finance’s website, as long as you meet their conditions, you are not required to obtain a permit for trade promotions open to residents of Tasmania:
“You do not need a permit to conduct a trade promotion in Tasmania.”
You can find out more information about running trade promotion lotteries, or competitions, in Tasmania via their website.
What about international licences?
Each country has unique licensing requirements, conditions, laws and application processes. If your business is based outside of Australia and you’re considering opening your competition to Australian residents or alternatively, if your competition is open to residents of countries outside of Australia; get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to point you in the direction of the appropriate licensing body.
There are some general terms which apply to most, if not all states so make sure your competition complies with the following:
- Entry must always be free, unless purchase of a service or product is required in which case they must be sold at their normal retail, or market value. To keep entry free, you must not ask entrants to exchange anything with ‘intrinsic’ value for entry, such as loyalty points.
- Even though your company may be registered in one state, you must apply for licences (if applicable) for each and every state your competition will be open to and promoted in.
- Some products and services must not be given away as a prize for a competition under any circumstances, this includes tobacco products in any form; firearms, ammunition or weapons and surgery, both medical and cosmetic. Alcohol is restricted in most states, please check each individual states’ website as linked above.
- Competitions requiring telephone entry must not exceed a certain cost (this varies from state to state but the lowest cap is 50c) and this must be clearly stated in the Terms and Conditions.
- There may be additional restrictions and conditions specific to each state so be sure to check the state’s trade permit websites via the links provided.
We hope this quick reference guide to licensing makes the sometimes daunting world of licences seem a little less scary. If you’re ever in doubt, just give OrigamiGlobe a call and we’ll point you in the right direction of the relevant site and send over the application forms if needed. We’re good like that. Applying for your licence(s) is actually a really exciting step, it means your competition is going ahead and you can get ready for some awesome results for your business.
Realised you’ll need a licence and want a hand applying? We’ve got just the thing for you…