Competitions, lotteries and raffles can be a fun way to raise money and can add interest and excitement to any event. There are various rules and regulations governing lotteries and raffles which you need to be aware of.

Firstly, you must understand the difference between an ordinary competition and a lottery or raffle. A competition is won by skill or talent, whereas a lottery or raffle are won by luck or chance. This difference is important as lotteries in particular are regulated by law.

Competitions are popular with all ages and can provide a useful way to raise income, increase participation and raise awareness. The kind of competition you run is only limited by your imagination and resources. Here are some examples of popular fundraising competitions:

  • talent contests
  • treasure hunts
  • quizzes
  • arts and crafts shows
  • sports events
  • sponsored challenges
  • cake-making competitions and flower or vegetable growing shows
  • pet shows
  • music, dancing or singing contests

Whatever you decide to do, ensure that there is a clear competitive element based on skill or talent, and the judges have the necessary knowledge and experience to select the winners.

Lotteries and raffles

A lottery (or raffle) is defined as:

  • gambling
  • payment is required to participate
  • one or more prizes are awarded
  • prizes are awarded by chance

A lottery is a game of chance, and a raffle is just another name for a lottery. There are several different types of charitable lotteries and you must make sure that if you run a lottery or raffle, it fits within one of these types, otherwise it is illegal.

Society Lotteries

Lotteries (or raffles) can only be run for good causes. Society lotteries are promoted for the benefit of a non-commercial society.

A society is non-commercial if it is established and conducted:

  • for charitable purposes
  • for the purpose of enabling participation in, or of supporting, sport, athletics or a cultural activity
  • for any other non-commercial purpose other than that of private gain.

The Gambling Commission can provide guidance about Lotteries (or raffles) and when you will need a license.

Small society lotteries

  • proceeds from a single draw must not exceed £20,000
  • aggregate proceeds from lotteries must not exceed £250,000 in any one year
  • does not require a Gambling Commission licence
  • must be registered with the local authority in the area where the principal office of the society is located.

For organisations based in Bradford district, contact the licensing office at Bradford Council. Tickets should not be bought or sold by people aged under 16.

Larger society lotteries

Contact the Gambling Commission for a non-commercial society lottery license if your society lottery will make more than £20,000 in a single draw or £250,000 in a year.

Gaming machines

Unless you are running a licensed premises (e.g. a bar), it is probably unlawful for you to install a gaming machine – contact the Gambling Commission for advice.

Gambling and ethics

Any kind of gambling may be considered unacceptable by members of your management committee or your wider community. It is essential to check with your committee and advisable to consider your wider community before planning a lottery.

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