Letter of the Law

by ticketprinting on March 24, 2009

[Update 11 December 2012: In the nearly 4 years since the original publication of this blog post, it has received dozens of comments in the form of questions about UK raffle law, and become one of Google’s top hits for the search query. We would like to remind readers that advice from strangers on the Internet is no substitute for informed research; while I can offer my interpretation of the law, you should ALWAYS consult your local gaming council in these matters. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of URLs for local gaming councils throughout the UK. PLEASE use this resource, rather than leaving comments on this post. It is a much wiser course of action.]

In any lottery

, your aim is to make money for your organisation. The last think you want is to violate the law of the land or create trouble for your favorite charity or group. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that you are aware of the legal implications of your raffle.

In the UK, we have some strict laws concerning lotteries and raffles, as per the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976 and the National Lottery Act 1993. Large raffles are considered a form of gambling and therefore require a licence. There are three kinds of legal raffles.

  • Small Raffle: If all your proceeds will go to charity and you intend to sell tickets only during the course of the event, a Small Raffle will suit your needs. Charge no more than one pound per ticket. You can give away any donated prizes, but may not have cash awards or spend over 250 pounds on prizes. You do not need a licence for this type of raffle.
  • Private Raffle: If tickets will be offered only to a defined group, such as members of a club or employees of the same organisation, and the raffle will not be advertised or available outside this group, a Private Raffle will be appropriate. In this case, you will also not need a licence.
  • Charity Raffle: If you want to sell raffle tickets amongst the general populace over a period of days, you will have to declare a Charity Raffle. Charge no more than 2 pounds per ticket and keep strict financial records. YOU MUST OBTAIN A LICENCE FROM THE GAMING BOARD OR LOCAL AUTHORITY FOR THIS!

An alternative way to sell raffle tickets without a licence is to hold a Prize Competition. Rather than determining the winner by drawing, you will ask a quiz question and reward prizes to those who answer correctly. Since the Prize Competition is based on skill rather than luck, it is not a matter for the Gaming Board.

Do It for Charity can offer some wonderful ideas on fund raising, including tips for keeping your raffle proper and legal. Best of luck!

COMMENTS TO THIS ENTRY HAVE BEEN CLOSED AS OF 9 JANUARY 2013. PLEASE CONSULT OUR LIST OF LOCAL GAMING COUNCILS, FIND THE APPROPRIATE CONTACT INFORMATION, AND ASK AN EXPERT!