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Keeping gambling Fair and safe for all

I would like to organise a sweepstake (for example on the World Cup or Grand National), are there any rules?



A typical sweepstake lottery is a scheme where participants pay to randomly select a team, in a sports tournament sweepstake, or a horse, in a horse race sweepstake. The person who selects the winning team, or horse, wins all the money.

Under the Gambling Act 2005 this qualifies as a lottery.

Most sweepstakes are small scale and are run in work places, where they are classed as work lotteries under the Gambling Act 2005 or by people who live together where they are classed as resident’s lotteries or in private members clubs where they are classed as private society lotteries.

You do not need a licence to run these types of lotteries but the Gambling Act 2005 does set out some general rules about how these lotteries must operate and anyone organising such a sweepstake lottery is advised to read our guidance note on Organising small lotteries before proceeding.

I would like to raise funds for a charity or other good cause by running a football themed or some other type of sweepstake for the general public. What would be the best way to operate this?

You would need to operate this as a society lottery. Small society lotteries must be registered with the local Licensing Authority. Large society lotteries require a licence from the Gambling Commission.

For further information, please refer to Promoting society and local authority lotteries which contains guidance on the rules for small and large society lotteries.

The people I work with would like to raise funds for charity or another good cause by holding a sweepstake. Can we do this?

Yes. Work lotteries can either be organised simply for fun where no profits are made and all the proceeds are used for reasonable expenses and prizes. Or to raise funds for a good cause where, as well as funding reasonable expenses and prizes, the profits of the lottery must be given to the good cause.

Work lotteries can only be promoted by someone who works on the premises and tickets can only be sold to other people who work at the same single set of premises. These can only be run and played by colleagues who work at the same single set of premises.

A rollover of prizes from one lottery to another is not permitted. 

Read our guidance note on Organising small lotteries before proceeding.

The people I live with would like to raise funds for charity or another good cause by holding a sweepstake. Can we do this?

Yes. Residents’ lotteries can either be organised simply for fun where no profits are made and all the proceeds are used for reasonable expenses and prizes. Or to raise funds for a good cause where, as well as funding reasonable expenses and prizes, the profits of the lottery must be given to the good cause.

Residents’ lotteries can only be promoted by someone who resides on the premises and tickets can only be sold to other residents who also live on the same single set of premises.

A rollover of prizes from one lottery to another is not permitted.

Read our guidance note on Organising small lotteries before proceeding.

I am a member of a private members club that would like to raise funds for the club by holding a themed sweepstake. The sweepstake would only be open to members of the club. Can we do this?

Yes. A private society can run a private society lottery to raise funds for the society (club). A private society lottery can also be run to raise funds for other good causes such as a charity.

Private society lotteries can only be promoted by an authorised member of a society. 

The society can be any group or society, provided it is not established and conducted for purposes connected to gambling. 

Tickets can only be sold to other members of that society and to people on the premises used for the administration of the society.

Read our guidance note on Organising small lotteries before proceeding.

I am a bookmaker and would like to operate a sweepstake lottery for my customers to raise funds for a charity or good cause. Can I do this?

No. The law prevents most types of lotteries (work, private society and customer lotteries*) from being promoted on licensed gambling premises. However, society lottery tickets can be sold on gambling premises on behalf of a licensed or registered society. 

Read our guidance note on Organising small lotteries before proceeding.

 

 

 

Page last reviewed: April 2016

 

*A mandatory condition attached to gambling premises licences specifies that premises licensed for gambling in England and Wales may not be used for the sale of tickets in a private society lottery, work lottery or a customer lottery; and that in Scotland they may not be used for the sale of tickets in a private society or work lottery.