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How to Run a Raffle Legally in the UK

You are in the right section if you are asking 'is it legal to hold a raffle for personal gain' or 'can I do a raffle on Facebook'? The information in this help guide is for anyone who is planning to raise money through a legal raffle (or lottery) for personal gain or profit.

Raffle Rules UK

Running raffles, sweepstakes, or lotteries are popular methods used to raise funds. In most cases, they produce a gain (e.g. profit or kitty) through the sale of specified and numbered raffle tickets.

So, how do you win? As a rule, participants will draw tickets at random so that the winning holder or holders get to claim a prize.

Raffles Rules vs. Lotteries Rules

In fact, some raffles are a legal type of lottery. Whereas, others may be drawn alongside lotteries. Feeling a little confused?

The basic function of a raffle, a fete tombola, and lotteries are similar in many ways. Even so, there are several significant and fundamental differences between these types of money raisers.

  1. UK raffle rules and regulations state that there must always be a guaranteed jackpot winner.
  2. A legal raffle is generally run with some kind of time constraints.
  3. As a general rule of thumb, there should be a limited number of tickets available in a legal raffle.
  4. Lottery rules usually allow you to choose your own numbers.
  5. Typically, lottery jackpots grow in prize money. Whereas, raffle jackpots are set at a fixed return.

UK Rules for Selling Raffle Tickets

Are you wondering how to sell raffle tickets and stay within the law? Well, before you start selling, each raffle ticket must specify the (all):

  • Name of the organisation that is running the draw. Furthermore, tickets should also show the date and place where someone will be drawing the numbers.
  • Name and address of the promoter. It must be a named individual with a full postal address (but not necessarily a private address).
  • Price charged for a single ticket. Moreover, the legal requirements for raffle tickets also state that the prices for multiple vouchers must be all the same.

Charity Raffle Rules: In the United Kingdom, any registered charities that do raffles must state that it is a ‘registered charity’ or display their charity number.

The Gambling Act 2005 supersedes the ‘Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976’ and now oversees the legalities of lotteries and some prize draws in the United Kingdom.

Check out the ‘Gambling Commission’ website for further information. It has comprehensive details on the complex UK raffle laws and the legitimacy of lotteries, and tombolas (contact details below).

The bottom line is this:

There are important raffle rules and regulations that operators must abide by. It depends on what type of raffle, lotto, or tombola (usually held at a fairground) you are organising. But, failure to do so can end in prosecution by legal authorities in the United Kingdom.

You can also contact the local council department. They can provide extra guidance on the requirements to run a raffle legally in the UK. Councils will also help operators secure a raffle licence (where necessary and applicable).

How to Organise a Raffle?

  • How to Run a Raffle Legally in the United KingdomThe organisation running the draw must register with the local authority if tickets are on sale to the general public.
  • The local authority’s name is no longer required to show on the ticket. But, the promoter is still responsible for ensuring the raffle complies with the law under the 2005 Gambling Act.
  • You must sell tickets (and raffle ticket books) for the price printed on the actual slip.
  • There should be a recognizable and unique reference number on every ticket.
  • The promoter of the raffle must keep track of all ticket sales.
  • Raffle and lottery promoters are responsible for how the event is run and they must keep official records. The records must show where all tickets were sold (and how many).
  • Raffles requiring a licence should have the ‘return’ report submitted to the relevant authority. This must take place within the specified time limit stating how many tickets got printed and sold. Your local council can provide further details.

Note: Selling raffle tickets at a discount, or giving them out to participants for free, is an illegal activity in the United Kingdom.

UK Rules for Drawing the Raffle

  • The raffle draw should take place at that same event location when organising a small lottery incidental to a specific event.
  • Society Lottery draws may be as low-key or as high profile as you wish. This means you can hold the draw as part of an event or simply hold it at an allotted place and time.
  • Following a Society Lottery draw, you should immediately notify all winners. This includes sending out their prizes once you have confirmed their address details for authenticity.
  • Raffle results should be openly publicized. But, publish them in a way that ensures addresses of the winners are not identifiable.
  • You must announce to all ticket holders exactly where and when a public lottery draw is going to take place.

Note: High value, or newsworthy prizes, may attract a local VIP or press reporters for further online advertising and promotions. They will be keen to report any award and prize-giving ceremony to the lucky winners.

Types of Lottery Operating Licences

There are two principle types of raffle licence that you may need to get from the Gambling Commission to keep your event legal.

Licences will be issued to those who want to run, or to promote, a large society lottery or for community authorities to carry out their lotteries. The licence issued will either be an operating licence or a personal management licence.

Online Raffle UK Laws

You may also need to obtain a remote gambling licence. These are for the organisers of a lottery carried out by means of remote electronic communication. As a rule, participants in this type of online raffle use the Internet (e.g. Facebook raffles) or a telephone.

There are some circumstances in which you do not need a lottery operating licence. But, you cannot run them for private or commercial gain.

Typically, some of the common events where you do not need to have a lottery operating licence, include:

  • Small society lottery
  • Incidental non-commercial lottery
  • Private society lottery
  • Work lottery
  • Residents’ lottery
  • Customer lottery
  • Lottery ticket machines
  • Lottery syndicates
  • Prize competitions and free draws
  • Fundraising (except large society lotteries)

Are Facebook Raffles Legal UK?

Advertising and promoting a raffle online is becoming very popular. After all, it seems to be a simple way of raising money or having some innocent fun on your favourite social networking platform.

Nonetheless, lotteries (including things like raffles, sweepstakes and certain other types of competitions) are a form of gambling. As a result, they are subject to laws about who can run them – and how.

Key takeaway:

It has become commonplace to see people running lotteries on many social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram. Even so, it is important to ensure they are lawful and you are not breaking the law (e.g. running an illegal lottery).

Are You Running it for a Good Cause?

In Great Britain, the law only allows for the promotion of lotteries for charities or to benefit other ‘good causes’. Thus, you cannot promote a lottery for commercial profit or for private gain.

Promoting a Lottery on Social Media

A significant number of lotteries seen on social networking sites are unlawful in the United Kingdom. The Gambling Commission is working with many platforms (along with the payment processors) to close them down.

As a result, some lottery and raffle promoters may:

  • Be committing a criminal offence.
  • Breach the terms and conditions of the site.
  • Risk having their profile removed.

Penalties for Promoting an Unlawful Lottery

The Gambling Act makes it a criminal offence to promote an unlawful lottery. Hence, you may be acting unlawfully by running a lottery on a social networking site.

As such, getting caught means you could face prosecution, receive a fine, imprisoned, or both (if you get convicted).

Do You Need a Licence?

In some cases, you will need to get a special licence from the Gambling Commission (or your local council authority).

The Gambling Commission

Set up under the Gambling Act 2005, the Gambling Commission regulates commercial gambling in Great Britain. The Gambling Act 2005 came into full force on the 1st of September 2007.

The committee is an independent non-departmental public body (NDPB) sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. They have over 200 employees who are mostly based in Birmingham.

It includes more than sixty (60) compliance and enforcement managers working across Great Britain. The work of the Gambling Commission is funded by fees paid by the operators that it licenses.

Note: The short video [1:16 seconds] explains the importance of the ban on gambling with credit cards and why the Gambling Commission introduced it.

Raffle Rules and Regulations: Lottery Laws in the United Kingdom