Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What licence do I need to run a spot the ball competition?


Spot the ball may involve betting, a prize competition, or a lottery, depending on how your scheme is structured.

If you structure your spot-the-ball scheme so that participants are expected to guess, or judge, whether anything is true or not, it is likely to be betting.  For example, if the aim of participants in the spot the ball scheme is to choose which of a number of pre-selected positions corresponds to the actual position of the ball in the original photograph, it is likely to be betting or a betting prize competition.   In order to operate these types of scheme you will need an appropriate betting operating licence from the Gambling Commission.

If your spot the ball scheme is not betting, it could be a lottery, or a prize competition, depending on how you arrange it.  To be a genuine prize competition there must be an element of skill, knowledge or judgement that is reasonably likely to prevent a significant proportion of people who wish to participate from doing so, and prevent a significant proportion of people who participate from receiving a prize.

For example, if a panel of judges determine the position of the ball in a spot-the-ball scheme, and participants have to apply judgement or skill to match their own decision of where the ball is with that of the panel, it is more likely to be a prize competition than a lottery.  Genuine prize competitions are free from statutory control under the Gambling Act 2005 and therefore do not require a licence.

If your spot-the-ball scheme is not a prize competition or betting, it is likely to be a lottery.  Lotteries are the preserve of good causes and cannot be run for commercial or private gain.  If you are running a spot-the-ball scheme as a lottery you will need either a lottery operating licence from us or you will need to register with your local licensing authority. You will need to meet the various other requirements which apply to lotteries.

Page last reviewed: September 2013

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