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Lotteries and raffles

‘Lottery’ is a broad term and includes a many types of event, such as raffles, tombolas and sweepstakes. As a rule, however, a lottery is a game where you pay to enter, there is at least one prize, and winning is dependent only on chance.

Lotteries allow charities to raise money from the public in a way that appeals to a wide audience. The added incentive of a prize enables charities to engage with those who may otherwise not donate, and gain new supporters.

The set up and administration of lotteries is regulated by the Gambling Commission.

As with other forms of fundraising, operators of charitable lotteries are also required under the Code of Fundraising Practice to respect donors. This includes following the rules to ensure donors are adequately informed, not exerting undue pressure and safeguarding people in vulnerable circumstances.
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I want to go straight to the code and read what it says about a lottery or raffle

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For fundraisers

There are many considerations when organising a lottery. These include whether the lottery will need to be licensed, what kind of lottery it is, and how supporters can enter. There are complicated legal regulations regarding lotteries, and you will need to ensure that your lottery complies with these.

There are many types of lottery that you may wish to run, and each has different regulatory requirements set out by the Gambling Commission. You can see the different types of lottery and associated regulations in this quick guide from the Gambling Commission. Regulations include who can enter, how many people can enter, limits on reclaiming costs, and ticket restrictions.

If you want to run a lottery you should be familiar with the code's standards of behaviour in section 1. This includes making sure donors know how their money will be spent, and not taking advantage of vulnerable donors. You should also be clear on data processing requirements set out in section 3 and processing donations in section 4.

 If your lottery is being run as part of an event, make sure that it is run in line with the rules in section 11. For information about working with volunteers please see section 5.

Some types of lotteries require a licence. To run a small society lottery, for example, you will need to register with your local authority. A large society lottery requires a lottery operating licence.

Prize competitions and free draws are also used by fundraisers. These do not count as lotteries, but if you want to run one be sure to read the Gambling Commission’s guidance to make sure you are not unintentionally running an illegal lottery.

To see what the Code says about fundraising lotteries, see section 12.

For the public

Regular lotteries provide another way to donate on an ongoing basis with the added incentive of winning a prize.

However, they should be clear about where your money is going, including how much of your donation goes to the cause.

Some lotteries ask you to donate by a particular date to enter the competition. Consider any request carefully and never feel under pressure into making a donation immediately.