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Gambling Licensing

Lotteries

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. Lotteries are one of the most popular types of gambling in the UK. Any type of competition or prize draw scheme will be classed as a lottery if it has the following characteristics:

  • players have to pay in order to take part
  • one or more prizes is allocated to one or more players
  • prizes are allocated by a process which relies wholly on chance (or if there is more than one round to select a winner, the first round relies wholly on 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. A number of types of competition could fall within the definition of a lottery, including raffles, tombola, sweepstakes, 100/500 clubs, and prize draws. In some cases, this will require the promoter to register with us, or obtain a licence from the Gambling Commission.

Small society lotteries

Charities, sports clubs and other non-commercial organisations wishing to run small lotteries to raise funds for their activities will need to register with us. Small society lotteries can be used to raise up to £250,000 per calendar year, with a limit on the proceeds from each individual lottery of £20,000. 

How to apply

Apply online

  • complete the application form and return by email to the Licensing Team
  • save a copy of the completed form for your own records
  • make the payment using a debit or credit card by calling 0208 770 5000 or online.

 Apply by post

  • Complete and print the application form
  • keep a copy of the completed form for your own records
  • send the original completed form to the Licensing Team. 
  • make the payment using a debit or credit card by calling 0208 770 5000 or online.

Guidance

Further guidance and details of conditions you will need to comply with can be found on the Gambling Commission website.

Issuing your registration

Once a decision has been made, we aim to issue your registration with 10 working days.

Draws and returns 

The promoting society of a small society lottery has a duty to accurately reflect the results of any lottery it holds. This is done by submitting a statutory return to the local authority during the period of three months beginning with the day on which the draw (or the last draw) in the lottery takes place. The return must be signed by two members of the society who are appointed for the purpose in writing by the society or, if it has one, its governing body. 

Fees

Details of the fees payable are available on our fees page. In addition to the application fee, there is an annual fee payable on the anniversary of the start date of the registration which you need to pay to keep the registration active.

Other types of lottery

The Gambling Act 2005 regulates a number of other types of lottery, although we are only responsible for registering small society lotteries.

National Lottery

The National Lottery is the largest lottery scheme in the UK. The operator is licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission, who ensure that its competitions are run in accordance with the licence terms and conditions and the relevant legal requirements.

Large society lotteries

Any non-commercial society that organises a single lottery expected to raise more than £20,000, or multiple lotteries raising more than £250,000 in a calendar year, must hold a lottery operating licence issued by the Gambling Commission.

Lotteries which do not require a licence

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.

Skill competitions and free prize draws

Most skill competitions will not be classed as lotteries, as they will not rely wholly on a process of chance to select the winner. The test that has to be applied is whether the competition (which may either rely on a test of skill, such as sporting ability, or a test of knowledge) is sufficiently difficult to eliminate a significant proportion of players.

Similarly, free prize draws, which do not require payment of an entry fee, are not considered to be lotteries.

More information on lotteries which do not require a licence, including the rules which must be followed, is available from the Gambling Commission.

Public Register

The Gambling Commission public register holds the details of all operating licence holders, personal licence holders and premises licences. For details of other licence and permit holders, please contact the Licensing Team.