A lottery is a game of chance which people pay to take part in to win prizes which are allocated by chance, for example duck races, film race nights, cloakroom tickets sold at private clubs, sweepstakes and raffles.
View the Gambling Commission guide to running a lottery.
A lottery needs to be either promoted by a registered charitable or philanthropic society or fall within one of the exempt lottery definitions. This means that none of the proceeds made from a lottery may be used for private gain. The conduct of all lotteries and raffles are controlled by Section 11 of the Gambling Act 2005.
Large society lottery
Any society that wants to hold a lottery, or lotteries, where ticket sales in any one year would be over £250,000, will need to register with the Gambling Commission.
Small society lottery
Lotteries where the amount raised through ticket sales per year is less than £250,000, will need to register with the Licensing Authority that covers the area of the society's main office or base. They are known as small society lotteries and are subject to certain rules and regulations:
- the total value of tickets or chances to win a prize cannot exceed £20,000
- a minimum of 20% of the lottery’s proceeds must be allocated to the purpose of the society. This means that no more than 80% of the proceeds can be used for prizes and expenses
- no single prize can be worth more than £25,000
- every ticket must cost the same and be paid for before entry into the draw is allowed
- every ticket must specify the name of the society, the name and address of the promoter, the date of the lottery, the price of the ticket
- any virtual tickets issued must be capable of being printed off
- no tickets can be sold to anyone under 16, nor can persons under 16 sell tickets
- no other payment, except for the price of the ticket, can be asked for before a person is allowed to enter a lottery
- rollovers are allowed, provided that no one prize is over £25,000 and the rollover lotteries are promoted on behalf of the same society. Basically any rollover lotteries must still constitute a small lottery
- no ticket can be sold to a person in the street except by a person in a kiosk or a shop premises that has no space to accommodate customers
Registrations may only be given to societies set up for non-commercial purposes such as sports, cultural or charitable purposes, and not where the sole purpose of the society is running a lottery.
Register a society
A small society lottery registration lasts indefinitely, unless you notify us that the registration is no longer needed, or it is cancelled due to non-payment of the annual fee.
How to apply
Complete the form and submit to:
Private society lotteries
This exemption allows any group or society (except those set up for gambling) to hold a lottery where the sales of tickets are limited to the members of that group or society. Tickets can't be sold and the lottery can't be advertised to anyone outside of the group or society. The proceeds of the lottery must go to the purposes of the society and must not be used for private gain.
These can only be run and played by colleagues at a particular place of work. This type of lottery cannot make a profit, and is unsuitable for fundraising.
These are similar to work lotteries as they can only be run and played by people living at a particular address. Again this type of lottery cannot make a profit, and is unsuitable for fundraising.
A lottery that can only be run by a business, at its own premises and for its own customers. No prize can be more than £50 in value. This type of lottery cannot make a profit, and is unsuitable for fundraising.
Incidental non-commercial lotteries
These are held at non-commercial events, such as school fetes etc. All ticket sales and the draw, must take place during the main event, which may last more than a single day. Prizes cannot total more than £500 and no more than £100 of the proceeds can be deducted for expenses, such as printing tickets or hiring equipment.
When a lottery has been held, the promoter must complete and send a statement form to us, no later than 3 months after the date of the lottery.
The statement must be certified by 2 members of the society (other than the promoter), being persons 18 years old or over appointed in writing by the society's governing body.
Guidance on the legislation and further requirements in relation to lotteries is available on the Gambling Commission website.