Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

I would like to organise a sweepstake (for example on the European Championship 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 this type of lottery 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 - November 2009 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. 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 - November 2009 (PDF, 103KB,10 pages) 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?

No. If the lottery is being run as a work lottery the law specifies that it cannot be run to raise funds, all the proceeds (money collected) must be paid out in prizes or used to cover any expenses. These lotteries are intended to be run for fun only. 

Read our guidance note on  Organising small lotteries - November 2009 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?

No. This would be classed as a resident’s lottery and the law specifies that it cannot be run to raise funds. All of the proceeds (money collected) must be paid out in prizes or used to cover any expenses. These lotteries are intended to be run for fun only. 

Read our guidance note on  Organising small lotteries - November 2009 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). However those funds cannot be distributed to other beneficiaries. For further information, please refer to  Organising small lotteries - November 2009 which contains guidance on the rules for private society lotteries.


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

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 - November 2009 before proceeding.

Page last reviewed: December 2013

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