Those involved in fundraising for good causes often organise events involving types of gambling as a means to raise money.
Gambling laws allows most gambling activities to be provided on a non-commercial basis, without the need for permission from the local authority or the Gambling Commission, provided that relevant rules are followed.
The Gambling Commission - Basic advice on running lotteries leaflet gives simple advice on running a lottery, including raffles, tombolas and sweepstakes. More detailed guidance on running small lotteries can found here Gambling Commission – Organising small lotteries.
If your lottery cannot be run in such a way as to fall within the definition of an exempt lottery you may decide to register with us to provide small society lotteries.
Small society lotteries
Society lotteries are lotteries promoted for the benefit of a non-commercial society. A society is non-commercial if it is established and conducted for charitable purposes, it enables participation in, or supporting of, sport, athletics and cultural activities and for any other non-commercial purpose other than that of private gain.
What are the limits placed on small society lotteries?
- At least 20% of the lottery proceeds must be applied to the purposes of the society
- No single prize may be worth more than £25,000
- Rollovers between lotteries are only permitted where every lottery affected is also a small society lottery promoted by the same society, and the maximum single prize is £25,000
- Every ticket in the lottery must cost the same and the ticket fee must be paid to the society (i.e. the society must take payment) before entry into the draw is allowed
- The total value of tickets for sale for single lottery cannot exceed £20,000
- The annual value of tickets for all lotteries per calendar year must not exceed £250,000
If you plan to exceed any of these limits, you must be licensed with the Gambling Commission.
Further guidance about pdf Small Society Lotteries (141 KB) .
You must register your small society lottery with the council in the area where your principal office is located. To apply for registration with us, please complete the document Lottery Registration Application (104 KB) form.
The fee to apply for registration as a small society lottery is £40.
Once a society is registered there is an annual fee of £20 to maintain their registration. If this fee is not paid, the registration will be cancelled.
After each lottery, the promoting society of a small society lottery must send certain information as returns to the licensing authority with which it is registered. This information allows us to assess, in particular, whether the financial limits are being followed and to ensure that any money raised is being applied for the proper purpose. The information that must be submitted is as follows:
- The arrangements for the lottery - specifically the date on which tickets were available for sale or supply, the dates of any draw and the value of prizes, including any donated prizes and any rollover
- The proceeds of the lottery
- The amounts deducted by the promoters of the lottery in providing prizes, including prizes in accordance with any rollovers
- The amounts deducted by the promoters of the lottery in respect of costs incurred in organising the lottery
- Whether any expenses incurred in connection with the lottery were not paid for by deduction from the proceeds, and, if so, the amount of expenses and the sources from which they were paid
- The amount applied to the purpose for which the promoting society is conducted (this must be at least 20% of the proceeds)
The return must be sent no later than three months after the date of the lottery draw, or in the case of instant lotteries (scratch cards) within three months of the last date on which tickets were on sale and be signed (electronic signatures are acceptable if the return is sent electronically) by two members of the society, who must be aged eighteen or older, are appointed for the purpose in writing by the society or, if it has one, its governing body, and accompanied by a copy of their letter or letters of appointment.
Refer to the document Financial Returns Form (760 KB) template for making lottery information returns.
Race Nights, Casino Nights etc.
The Gambling Commission – Can I hold a race night, casino night or poker night? gives advice on running a race night, casino night or similar event for a good cause.
A simple advice leaflet on pdf Organising Bingo for a good cause (506 KB) can be downloaded.
The Gambling Commission - Advice on non-commercial and private gaming and betting leaflet gives more detailed information on organising non-commercial prize gaming and non-commercial equal chance gaming, including any conditions that must be complied with.