FAQs raffles and lotteries
Running a raffle at events can increase
profits at an event and help build links with local businesses. As
raffles fall under the terms of the Gambling Act 2005, we asked the
Gambling Commission - what rules do PTAs need to know?
A lottery is a kind of gambling which has three
you have to pay to enter the game
there is always at least one prize
prizes are awarded purely on chance.
In a typical raffle, a player buys a ticket with
a number on it. The tickets are randomly drawn and those holding
the same numbered tickets win the prizes. Another version is a
sweepstake - for example, where the participants pay to randomly
pick a name in a 'guess the name of the teddy' game. The person who
guesses the winning name wins the teddy.
There are three types of lottery that PTAs are
likely to hold: An 'incidental lottery' doesn't require any
permissions or licences and is often the kind held at school fêtes.
All ticket sales must take place during the event but the draw may
take place afterwards.
A 'private society lottery' also requires no
additional licence and you may sell tickets in advance to members
of your society and their guests, but on the society premises only
(ie on school grounds). This type of lottery presents a challenge
for PTAs since it may not be promoted in any way outside the school
premises, so you would not be able to send flyers or tickets home
in book bags or mention an upcoming raffle, such as the raffle at
your summer fair, on a poster for the event.
A 'small society lottery' requires a licence
from your local authority. The society in question must be set up
for non-commercial purposes, i.e. charitable.
Do we need a lottery licence to run a raffle at
If you are running a raffle where tickets are
not sold before the event, it falls under the terms of an
'incidental lottery'. As such, you will not require a licence or
any specific permissions. However, you must adhere to the following
All tickets must be sold at the location during
the event. The draw may take place after the event, but you should
establish a way for ticket holders to find out who has won.
The promoters of the lottery cannot deduct more
than £100 from the proceeds in expenses incurred, such as for the
cost of printing tickets, hire of equipment, etc.
No more than £500 can be deducted from the
proceeds for prizes (but other prizes may be donated) and the
raffle cannot involve a rollover of prizes.
If you are selling tickets prior to the event to
members of the public or advertising your raffle outside of society
premises in any way, this falls under the terms of a 'small society
lottery' and a licence is required - see below.
Can we sell tickets before the event?
If you are planning to sell tickets to the
public prior to the event and the proceeds (from ticket sales) for
a single draw are not anticipated to exceed £20,000 then you must
register with your local authority as a 'small society lottery'.
You would need to pay a small fee and comply with a range of
regulatory requirements including providing entrants to the lottery
with tickets stating specific information (see below) and
preventing children under the age of 16 from participating. If the
proceeds for a single draw were to exceed £20,000 you would require
a 'large society lottery' licence from the Gambling Commission.
Are there any specific details that must be
printed on our raffle tickets?
There are no specific requirements for details
to be printed on tickets sold in an 'incidental lottery'.
For a 'small society lottery' (tickets sold in
advance), tickets must show the name of the promoting society (and
the purpose of the lottery), the ticket price, the name and address
of the organiser and the date of the draw.
We have alcoholic prizes - are there any other
licensing requirements to consider?
Not from a lottery perspective. Alcoholic prizes
cannot be given to under 18s, but you would need to check with your
local authority for any further requirements.
Advice from licensing office: As long as your
prizes are in sealed containers a TEN (Temporary Event Notice)
would not be required, however you may need a TEN for other
attractions at your event or if your event itself is considered
'regulated entertainment'. If someone who appears to be under 18
wins an alcoholic prize, checks should be made to verify their age
and it is good practice to withhold the prize until it can be given
to someone of 18 or over.
We are selling raffle tickets at our event,
with alcoholic prizes - does it matter if my son is sitting on the
stall with me?
If the lottery is being run as an 'incidental
lottery' then this would be allowed from a lottery/raffle point of
view. This is not an issue for the Licensing Act 2003.
Do we need to be a charity in order to run a
You do not need to be a registered charity to
run raffles or lotteries, however they cannot be run for private or
commercial gain. You will need to set up as a society if you are
looking to be registered or licensed as a 'small society
Can children buy (or sell) raffle tickets?
They can in an 'incidental lottery' but children
under the age of 16 cannot sell tickets or participate in a 'small
We've had to postpone our event, can I put back
the draw of our raffle?
If you are registered with your local authority
to run a 'small society lottery', then you need to contact them in
case they have specific terms and conditions you must adhere to. If
you put back the date of the draw, it will need to take place as
soon as practicably possible. You must make every attempt to notify
those who have purchased tickets in the lottery/raffle of the
change to the draw date. The notification may be through a number
of channels including email, a telephone or text message, your
website, a newsletter and your local newspaper.
Can we sell raffle/tombola tickets for 50p each
or three for £1?
Tombolas are often run at non-commercial events,
such as school fetes, and are normally offered as an 'incidental
lottery' under the Gambling Act 2005. Although there are other
rules for this type of lottery, the only requirements regarding
tickets are that they are sold at the place where the event is
held, while the event is taking place. Under the Act there is no
reference to ticket pricing so it is acceptable to, for example,
charge 50p for one ticket, £1 for three tickets. Similarly, if
during the latter stages of the event there were still prizes left,
there are no restrictions on reducing prices of tickets further in
order to sell them.
For more information
More details about running a raffle for fundraising can be found
in the 'Lotteries FAQs' section on the Gambling Commission website
contact the licensing officer at your local authority.
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on
the guidance provided.
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