Gambling sectors

About lotteries (raffles)


 

What are lotteries?

Lotteries (also known as raffles) cannot be run for private or commercial gain.

Lotteries are defined by the Gambling Act 2005 as either ‘simple’ or ‘complex’.

A simple lottery is where:

  • people are required to pay to take part
  • prizes are allocated to participants
  • prizes are allocated wholly by chance.

A complex lottery is where:

  • people are required to pay to take part
  • prizes are allocated to participants
  • prizes are allocated by a series of processes the first of which relies wholly on chance.

Types of lottery

There are several types of lottery:

Raffles, tombolas and sweepstakes are all types of lottery. Free prize draws and prize competitions are not types of lottery (see Prize competitions and free draws - the requirements of the Gambling Act 2005 - December 2009 for further information).

Permissions needed to run a lottery

Large society lotteries and lotteries promoted by local authorities require a licence from the Gambling Commission.

Small society lotteries can operate under a registration with their local authority.

Other types of lottery do not require specific permission but there are rules that must be complied with (see Organising small lotteries - November 2009 for further information).

Minimum participation age

Lotteries differ from other types of gambling activity in that the minimum participation age is 16 for the National Lottery, society lotteries, customer lotteries and local authority lotteries, as opposed to 18 for other types of gambling. There is no minimum age requirement for other types of lotteries.

Remote lotteries

Lotteries can be run by means of remote communication including the internet, telephone etc. Large remote society lotteries and remote local authority lotteries require a remote lottery operating licence issued by the Gambling Commission.

Statistics about the lottery sector are available on our website.

Page last reviewed: January 2014

The Gambling Commission is not responsible for managing lottery draws or publishing their results.

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