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A lottery is a kind of gambling where you have to pay to enter the game, there is always at least one prize; and prizes are allocated wholly by chance. Under the Gambling Act 2005 lotteries (also known as raffles) cannot be run for private or commercial gain. 

Lotteries can be used to collect money for a good cause such as a charity, to help a local club buy equipment, or a school to raise funds for educational needs.

Types of lotteries

Small society lottery

The society in question must be set up for non-commercial purposes e.g. sports, cultural or charitable. There is a top limit of £20,000 in ticket sales. At least 20% of proceeds must go to the good cause. Up to 80% of the monies raised can be used for prizes and expenses. A small society lottery requires a registration from your local authority.

Large society lotteries

Similar to the small society lottery, but ticket sales exceed £20,000. This is licensed by the Gambling Commission.

Local authority lotteries

Run by the local authority, to help with any expenditure it normally incurs. This is licensed by the Gambling Commission.

Lotteries exempt of a licence or registration

Incidental, private and customer lotteries are permitted to be run without a licence from the Gambling Commission or Licensing Authority. 

Incidental lotteries

Incidental lotteries held entirely at events (such as where tickets are only sold at and during the event), where all the money raised from the lottery goes to purposes that are not for private or commercial gain, do not need to be registered or licensed, as long as they comply with certain statutory criteria.

Private lotteries

Private society, work or residents' lotteries are those where tickets are only sold to society members, workers in or residents of a premises. For example, a weekly raffle where tickets are sold only to the residents of a residential care home, or an office sweepstake.

Customer lotteries

Customer lotteries are those run by occupiers of business premises selling tickets only to customers on the premises itself.

How to apply

We may ask new applicants for a copy of their terms and conditions or their constitution to establish that they are a non-commercial society. We may also request that an applicant provides a declaration stating that they represent a bona fide non commercial society.

Records and returns

Returns for each lottery must be completed and sent to the Authority within three months of each draw.

You must show that at least 20% of the total proceeds raised have gone to the purposes for the society was created. If after receipt of the return it is apparent that the ticket sales are above the permitted limits for a small society lottery, the Authority will notify the Gambling Commission. A copy of that notification will be provided to the society

Contact the Licensing Team

If you have any questions or comments please contact the Licensing Team.

Regulatory Services Partnership
Merton Civic Centre
London Road

Telephone: 020 8545 3969

Updated: 31 March 2022

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