Browse topics

  • Governing law
    NameLaw or Code?
    Gambling Ordinance (Cap. 148 of the laws of Hong Kong) (the 'Gambling Ordinance') Law
    Gambling Regulations (Cap. 148A of the laws of Hong Kong) (the 'Gambling Regulations') Subsidiary legislation
    Trade Promotion Competition Licence - Application Forms and Guide for Applicants (the 'Guide') Guidance Note
    Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486 of the laws of Hong Kong) (the 'Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance') Law
    Trade Descriptions Ordinance (Cap. 362 of the laws of Hong Kong) (the 'Trade Descriptions Ordinance') Law
    Generic Code of Practice on Television Advertising Standards ('TV Code') Code
    Radio Code of Practice on Advertising Standards (the 'Radio Code') Code
    Code of Practice of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Hong Kong (the 'AAAA Code') Code
    Note: The AAAA Code only applies to members of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Hong Kong.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Extra-territoriality

    Anyone who wishes to conduct a trade promotion competition in Hong Kong is required to obtain a license from the Office of the Licensing Authority, Home Affairs Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the 'Licensing Authority'). This position applies as long as a Hong Kong resident (whether permanent or non-permanent resident) is able to enter the trade promotion competition. As such, if a Hong Kong resident is able to enter a trade promotion competition that is operated purely online and outside of Hong Kong, a Trade Promotions License is required to be obtained. In practice, it may be difficult to enforce the rules in these circumstances, but the relevant authorities in Hong Kong will begin investigations upon receiving a complaint.

    An overseas applicant should appoint and authorize an agent whose business is registered in Hong Kong to be the applicant. Details of the applicant company are required to be stated in the application form and the license will be issued to that company.

    The Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance does not explicitly have extra-territorial effect, ie it governs activities of data users who control the collection, holding, processing or use of personal data from within Hong Kong.

    The Trade Descriptions Ordinance applies if, at the time of engaging in the commercial practice, the trader is in Hong Kong or if Hong Kong is the trader's usual place of business.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Skills competitions

    Where a competition is completely based on skill and there is no element of chance involved, such competitions do not require a Trade Promotion Competition License. If the competition in any way involves chance, the competition will be governed by the Gambling Ordinance and a license will be required.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Prize draws

    In most cases, competitions will be considered as 'Trade Promotion Competitions' under the Gambling Ordinance as a competition that is 'promoted, conducted or managed for the purpose of promoting a trade/business/product by way of a game that distributes or allots prizes by lot/chance'. Trade promotions competitions may be caught by the definition of 'lottery' or 'gaming' under the Gambling Ordinance.

    Under the Gambling Ordinance, a prize draw is considered to be a form of 'lottery'. 'Lottery' includes raffles, sweepstakes, local Chinese games and gambling (po piu (舖票), hung piu (紅票) and tse fa (字花)) and any competition involving guessing or estimating results that does not depend to a substantial degree on skill of competitors which distributes or allots prizes by lot or chance.

    'Gaming' means the playing of a game or any game played for monetary benefit or other property, whether or not any person playing the game is at risk of losing any money or other property.

    In most cases, prior approval is needed for a prize draw in the form of a license and for the majority of competitions, this will need to be in the form of a Trade Promotion Competition License.

    Selling, disposing, printing and publishing tickets without a license are criminal offences along with publishing and forecasting results and providing money for unlawful lotteries, all punishable by fines or imprisonment.

    A Trade Promotion Competition License is granted for particular competitions and if there is more than one competition running simultaneously, corresponding licenses may be required for each competition or location, depending on the connection between the two competitions.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Selection of winners

    The application form for the license requires a declaration that there is a prize awarding process which is random and with each participant having an equal chance of winning.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Judges

    There are no particular requirements in relation to judges or judging for skills competitions.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Prizes

    It is not permitted to award cash prizes as part of a competition. However, businesses can award vouchers or gift cards as long as these cannot be redeemed for cash or used to pay for, or settle, debts. If award vouchers, gift cards or credit card spending credit are awarded, the competition should not carry misleading titles, such as 'Great Chance to Win Cash' or '$10,000 Lucky Draw'. If it is not a joint promotion event, the prize sponsor's name may not be included in the title.

    Any prizes that are illegal or contrary to public decency or encourage participants (particularly under 18 years of age) to become involved with gambling, are not permitted.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Registration requirements and fees

    Registration Requirements

    The application includes a requirement to enclose business information, memoranda and articles, identification for the applicant, public materials to be used, relevant terms and conditions and any other samples relevant to the promotion.

    In considering whether to grant the license, the Licensing Authority will take into account the public interest and will refuse to grant a license if the competition is believed to be fraudulent or indecent or if the applicant is identified as a 'dishonest trader'.

    Competitions must be incidental to the business, not recurrent or last for an unreasonably long period of time. Generally, licenses are not granted for more than three months and the application procedure can take around 2-3 weeks to complete.

    Fees / Taxes Payable

    In order to obtain a license it is necessary to submit the relevant documentation and forms to the Licensing Authority, along with the relevant fee:

    • $1,590 (approx. US$207) for a license

    • $125 (approx. US$16) for a duplicate license, and

    • $155 (approx. US$20) for a change in particulars

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Other local requirements

    The Licensing Authority may apply conditions to the license for the business to comply with. There are general conditions that must be met under all Trade Promotion Competition Licenses, in addition to the specific prohibition on cash prizes.

    It is not permitted to charge a fee to enter a competition. However, the example application provided by the Licensing Authority does not indicate that participants can be required to purchase a product or number of products for entry into a competition, eg proof of purchase of 5 products entitles the participants to 5 entries into a draw.

    All advertising for the competition must quote the relevant license number and the results of the competition must be published in a Chinese and English newspaper 10 days after the judging or drawing of the prize(s). The position remains the same for an instant-win game where prize winners are able to claim their prizes on the spot. A cutting of the newspaper article must be forwarded to the Licensing Authority for its records. The Trade Descriptions Ordinance prohibits false or misleading trade description of goods and services, or claims in advertisements.

    Changes cannot be made to a competition once it has commenced (including the cancellation or change to the competition period). If a competition has not commenced, minor changes can be made, subject to approval by the Licensing Authority. Making changes costs $155 (approx. US$20) and only one change can be made.

    Personal data involved during the trade promotion competition should be collected, handled and destroyed in accordance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. For example, personal data collected from participants should not be used for purposes other than the trade promotion competition or transferred to a third party unless the participant's consent is obtained, or unless an exception under the laws apply.

    Moreover, entire Hong Kong Identity Card numbers or entire dates of birth (ie year, month and day) should not be collected unless absolutely necessary. The prize winner's name should not be announced together with his/her Hong Kong Identity Card number, even if altered. Also, the prize winner's telephone number should not be published in full.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Timing

    According to the Guide, the completed application forms, together with the supporting documents and publicity materials, should reach the Licensing Authority at least two calendar weeks before the commencement of the competition/commencement of the advertising of the competition. Applicants are advised to apply for a license well in advance if advertisements of the competition are to be placed in the media.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Translations

    None required.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Penalties for non-compliance

    Non-compliance with a condition of a license can result in a fine of $50,000 (approx. US$6,500) and imprisonment for 2 years.

    Non-compliance will also be taken into consideration on any future application for a license.

    In addition, the following penalties may be relevant under the Gambling Ordinance (note that this is not an exhaustive list):

    • $5,000,000 (approx. US$650,000) and 2 years imprisonment on summary conviction or $5,000,000 (approx. US$650,000) and 7 years imprisonment on indictment, for knowingly running an unlawful lottery or providing money to an unlawful lottery

    • $50,000 (approx. US$6,500) and imprisonment for 2 years for selling, disposing of or possessing with a view to selling, illegal lottery tickets, and

    • $50,000 (approx. US$6,500) and imprisonment for 2 years for printing, publishing or writing tickets, lists of prizes, tips, hints forecasts or announcements in relation to an illegal lottery

    The following penalties may be relevant under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (note that this is not an exhaustive list):

    • Upon the occurrence of a breach of the data protection principles under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data of Hong Kong may issue an enforcement notice to direct the data user to remedy the contravention. Failure to comply with the enforcement notice is an offence and offenders may be liable for a maximum fine of $50,000 (approx. US$6,500) and imprisonment of 2 years

    • $500,000 (approx. US$65,000) and imprisonment of up to 3 years for using personal data in direct marketing obtaining data subject's consent or providing personal data for use in direct marketing otherwise than for gain without data subject's consent, and

    • $1,000,000 (approx. US$130,000) and imprisonment for up to 5 years for providing personal data for use in direct marketing for gain without data subject's consent.

    The Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data has been active in enforcing the direct marketing regime since it came into force in April 2013, and we have already seen a prison sentence and a community service order handed down for offences in connection with the direct marketing regime.

    The following penalties may be relevant under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (note that this is not an exhaustive list):

    • $100,000 (approx. US$13,000) and imprisonment for up to 2 years on summary conviction or $500,000 (approx. US$65,000) and imprisonment for up to 5 years on indictment for applying a false trade description to goods or services

    The Trade Descriptions Ordinance is an important piece of law relating to consumer protection, and the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department has taken rigorous enforcement actions against offenders.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Restrictiveness of regulations

    A Trade Promotion Competitions License is required, but the requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to obtain it are not unduly onerous or restrictive.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Regularity of sanctions

    Fines and prison sentences are rarely imposed.

    If the authorities in Hong Kong receive a compliant in relation to prize promotion activity, the Hong Kong police will begin an investigation. If the Hong Kong police are of the view that there is a breach of the laws, action will be brought against the relevant individual/entity.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Key contacts
    Edward Chatterton
    Edward Chatterton
    Partner DLA Piper Hong Kong [email protected] T +852 2103 0504 View bio
    Ian Jebbitt
    Ian Jebbitt
    Registered Foreign Lawyer DLA Piper Hong Kong [email protected] T +852 2103 0457 View bio

Governing law

What are the applicable governing laws or codes for prize promotions?

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

NameLaw or Code?
Gambling Ordinance (Cap. 148 of the laws of Hong Kong) (the 'Gambling Ordinance') Law
Gambling Regulations (Cap. 148A of the laws of Hong Kong) (the 'Gambling Regulations') Subsidiary legislation
Trade Promotion Competition Licence - Application Forms and Guide for Applicants (the 'Guide') Guidance Note
Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486 of the laws of Hong Kong) (the 'Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance') Law
Trade Descriptions Ordinance (Cap. 362 of the laws of Hong Kong) (the 'Trade Descriptions Ordinance') Law
Generic Code of Practice on Television Advertising Standards ('TV Code') Code
Radio Code of Practice on Advertising Standards (the 'Radio Code') Code
Code of Practice of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Hong Kong (the 'AAAA Code') Code
Note: The AAAA Code only applies to members of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Hong Kong.