Testing your skills

“When Salar Abdul-Baki won one of the 20 weekly prizes in Microsoft’s Xbox Live Plug-in & Win contest last week, he wasn’t home free. Like all winners who live in Canada, the 17-year-old resident of Mississauga, Ontario, had to answer a math question to claim his prize. The question — ostensibly a test of the winner’s mathematical skills — was typical of today’s Canadian product sweepstakes: Multiply 90 by 2, divide by 6 and multiply by 12… In reality, the test is a hack of Canada’s legal code by the promotions business. Canadian anti-gambling law makes it illegal to sell chances to win a prize, so promoters always offer a free method of entering each contest, and task every winner with a skill-testing question. By doing the latter, they argue, the game is no longer one merely of chance but a contest requiring some skill.” Robert Lemos, Wired News