The Registrar has established guidelines giving licensees and Operators of bingo halls a wide variety of options for bingo advertising and promotion. Allowable bingo advertising and promotions activities include:
- promotional contests;
- customer loyalty programs;
- mail outs;
- gift certificates;
- advertising outside the hall; and
- in-hall advertising.
Licensees and Operators are responsible for ensuring that they comply with the Registrar’s policies, the Criminal Code (Canada), the Gaming Control Act, 1992 and Regulations and any other applicable municipal, provincial and federal legislation. Licensees and Operators may contact the AGCO for clarification on AGCO policies.
Licensees may choose to advertise and promote their events:
- jointly through the HCA;
- jointly through the HCA in conjunction with the Operator; or
- both independently and jointly.
Licensees that choose to market their events together and/or in conjunction with an Operator of a bingo hall must develop a joint marketing plan, as outlined in “9.7.4”.
9.7.2. EVENT SPECIFIC OR NON-EVENT SPECIFIC
- “Event specific” activities relate directly to the conduct and management of a gaming activity. They are the responsibility of the licensee.
- “Non-event specific” activities do not relate directly to either the conduct or management of a specific gaming activity; therefore, either Operators of bingo halls or licensees may conduct these types of activities.
9.7.3. ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION CONTENT
The content of all bingo advertising and promotion, including graphics, must comply with the policies outlined in “3.3.2. Advertising Content guidelines”, and the policies listed below:
- All “event specific” advertising must state:
» the name of the eligible charitable organization conducting the event, and
» the lottery licence number(s).
- Licensees must not combine prize values for more than one event to create the impression of a large single prize board.
- The terms and conditions of the licence prohibit promotional or advertising material on bingo paper, unless it promotes the licensee and is placed by the licensee.
9.7.4. JOINT MARKETING PLANS
The licensees in an HCA may decide to market their events together or in conjunction with the Operator of the bingo hall. Each licensee who wishes to participate must consent in writing to the marketing plan. Licensees may develop only one joint marketing plan per hall. A licensee may choose to opt out of the joint marketing plan and conduct its own advertising and promotion.
The licensees must develop a joint marketing plan through the HCA. If the Operator is sharing the cost of the plan, the Operator will be involved in the development of the plan as well.
The joint marketing plan must outline:
- the proposed advertising and promotion plans;
- the estimated timeline for implementation;
- the projected costs;
- the cost sharing proposal; and
- a description of the expected outcome or benefit of each proposed activity.
Joint advertising costs must be shared between the HCA and the Operator on a 60/40 (HCA/ Operator) basis. The licensee or HCA must contribute its 60 per cent from the up to two (2) per cent it is allowed to spend for advertising. The two (2) per cent must cover the total amount of a licensee’s advertising and promotional activity, including amounts spent independently or jointly.
See “9.7.5. Setting aside funds for advertising and promotion” for further information.
9.7.5. SETTING ASIDE FUNDS FOR ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION
9.7.5 (A) Licensees
Licensees may set aside an amount of up to two (2) per cent of the Regular Bingo and Table Board Bingo prize board for advertising and promotion activities and up to two (2) per cent of the actual prizes awarded from their Super Jackpot, Progressive Bingo Game and Loonie Progressive Game events.
Members of the HCA who are participating in the joint marketing plan as described in 9.7.4 must submit the agreed upon amounts to the HCA.
Licensees who participate in joint advertising may also conduct their own independent advertising plan, provided they have funds remaining within the allowable limits.
9.7.5 (B) Operators of bingo halls
No limit has been set on the amount an Operator of a bingo hall can spend on its own independent advertising and promotional activities.
When an Operator is participating in joint advertising and/or promotion with an HCA, the Operator’s contribution is limited to 40 per cent of the entire cost of the activities.
9.7.6. DESIGNATED TRUST ACCOUNT FOR ADVERTISING EXPENSES
Licensees who advertise and promote their events independently must deposit funds, up to the prescribed limits, in a separate designated trust account used solely for advertising expenses. Each licensee member of an HCA must submit a report to the HCA outlining:
- the cost of advertising and promotion in the previous quarter;
- the amount of money remaining in the account; and
- a plan for returning excess funds to the licensee’s lottery trust account and to the Operator of the bingo hall.
9.7.7. ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION QUARTERLY REPORTS
9.7.7 (A) Hall Charities Associations (HCAs)
HCAs must provide member organizations and the Operator of the bingo hall with a quarterly report, including:
- total advertising and promotion expenditures during the previous quarter;
- total disbursements of unused funds returned to the member organizations and the Operator during the quarter;
- the total remaining accumulated advertising and promotion funds; and
- plans for returning excess funds to the member organizations and the Operator, if required.
At any time, an HCA may return accumulated, unused advertising and promotion funds to the Operator and licensees. The amount returned must be based on the amounts contributed by the individual licensees and the Operator.
9.7.7 (B) Licensees
Licensees who are carrying out independent advertising and promotion activities must submit quarterly reports on these activities to the HCA.
9.7.8. BINGO ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION ACTIVITIES
9.7.8 (A) Giveaways
Licensees and Operators may offer giveaways of non-gaming products to customers and prospective customers. The following policies apply to giveaways:
- A giveaway may be in the form of a coupon that may be redeemed for merchandise or a discount on an item. Coupons cannot be redeemed for cash.
- Any restrictions on the redemption of a coupon, such as when or what it may be redeemed for, must be stated on the coupon.
- Items to be used as giveaways may be donated by third parties (someone other than the licensee or the Operator) in exchange for promotional considerations only. No other forms of payment are permitted.
9.7.8 (B) Promotional contests
While both Operators and licensees may stage promotional contests, there are some restrictions:
- Only licensees may stage promotional contests in the form of a bingo or break open ticket game;
- Operators may host other types of promotional contests including those that extend across more than one bingo hall.
A third party or an Operator may donate prizes to be given away as part of an Operator or licensee- run promotional contest in exchange for promotional consideration only. No other form of payment is permitted. Operators and licensees may not contract with a third party to offer inducements, such as gifts or the chance to receive a gift, to play games of chance. Operators and licensees must ensure that all promotional contests comply with the relevant municipal, provincial and federal legislation.
9.7.8 (C) Customer loyalty programs
9.7.8 (c) (i) Programs
Operators and/or licensees may establish customer loyalty programs that reward customers for their patronage, based on the frequency of their visits. A “visit” is defined as one session of not less than 1.5 hours. Customers may redeem their accumulated loyalty points for rewards in the form of giveaways of non-gaming products. Customer loyalty points cannot be redeemed for cash.
If customer loyalty programs are part of a joint marketing plan between licensees and the Operator of the bingo hall, the licensees’ share of the costs, including administration and rewards, must fall within the prescribed limits for advertising and promotion.
Customer loyalty programs may be shared across charitable gaming sites, including those belonging to different Operators, and across geographic/municipal boundaries.
If the organization discontinues the program or ceases operation, the program will constitute a liability, based upon points and/or rewards earned by customers. An organization offering a customer loyalty program must be able to fund this liability.
Customer loyalty programs must be pre-approved by the Registrar in writing. Licensees and/or Operators must submit a detailed proposal containing:
- a description of how the program will function;
- the role and responsibilities of each party participating in the program;
- a description of how the points will be tracked (for example, manually or through an automated tracking system);
- a detailed description of each reward, its retail dollar value and its designated point value;
- the redemption value of each point awarded;
- a plan for funding the liability, in the event of a closure or bankruptcy;
- the proposed cost sharing arrangement, if any, between the Operator and licensees/HCA; and
- the written agreement of the Operator and/or HCA.
9.7.8 (c) (ii) Customer tracking systems
Licensees and Operators may use customer tracking systems to record the information necessary to operate their customer loyalty programs. The tracking system may be as simple as punch cards or as sophisticated as electronic cards. In most cases, the suppliers of the customer tracking systems will not be required to register under the Gaming Control Act, 1992. However, the Registrar may require that a supplier be registered under the Act in order to contract with an Operator and/or licensee to track points or guarantee liability.
The Registrar will make registration decisions on a case-by-case basis, prior to granting program approval. Also, at any time the Registrar may require that a supplier be registered.
9.7.8 (D) Direct mail to existing customers
Licensees and Operators may use direct mail advertising to communicate with existing customers only. The mail must be addressed to the intended recipient. The licensees/ Operator must compile a formal mailing list of the names and addresses of actual customers at that bingo hall. The list must be available for inspection by the licensing authority.
9.7.8 (E) Gift certificates
Licensees and Operators may sell gift certificates or offer them as promotional items. These gift certificates may only be redeemable for cash or non-gaming products. Each gift certificate must state its restrictions, such as what it may be redeemed for, when it may be used and its expiry date. The cost of a gift certificate must be the same as its redemption value.
Gift certificates produced by a licensee may only be sold during that licensee’s events. This must be stated on the certificate.
As gift certificates are the equivalent of cash, they represent a liability for the issuing organization. Licensees and Operators must:
- reserve sufficient funds to redeem all gift certificates in circulation;
- set up accounting practices and procedures to ensure that their financial statements reflect gift certificates in circulation; and
- institute security measures, such as serial numbers and original signatures, to validate gift certificates.
Licensees and Operators who intend to sell gift certificates must develop a policy outlining:
- how the program will operate;
- the security measures;
- restrictions on redemption;
- a plan to address liability for outstanding gift certificates; and
- any other outstanding issues.
While the Registrar does not have to approve the policy or the accounting measures in advance, the licensee or Operator must be able to provide them for inspection or audit purposes.
9.7.8 (F) Advertising outside the bingo hall
The Registrar permits three types of advertising outside the bingo hall:
- Shared cost/joint event-specific and non–event specific advertising
- Non–event specific only advertising
- Event-specific only advertising
9.7.8 (f) (i) Shared cost/joint event-specific and non–event specific advertising
For advertising that contains both event-specific and non–event specific advertising, a licensee or an HCA may share the cost with an Operator of a bingo hall. Such advertising may contain, for example, information about specific games to be played and general information about the hall, including promotional activities.
When licensees or HCAs and Operators wish to engage in such joint advertising, they must develop a joint marketing plan, as outlined in Section 9.7.4. and make it available upon request by a licensing authority.
9.7.8 (f) (ii) Non–event specific only advertising
Operators and licensees/HCAs may engage in non–event specific advertising, either jointly or independently.
9.7.8 (f) (iii) Event-specific only advertising
Only licensees, either individually or through a HCA, may engage in event-specific only advertising.
9.7.9. THIRD PARTY ADVERTISING
9.7.9 (A) Advertising outside the bingo hall
Third parties (parties other than licensees or Operators) may not financially contribute to advertising outside the hall, but they may provide promotional considerations in return for advertising. For example, a company may provide a product giveaway that goes directly to players, in return for being mentioned in an advertisement.
If a third party sponsor is mentioned in an advertisement containing event-specific information, the licensee’s name must be featured more prominently than that of the third party sponsor.
9.7.9 (B) Advertising inside the bingo hall
Operators may offer advertising space within the hall to third party sponsors only in return for promotional considerations that go directly to players. Operators may not sell advertising space.