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Online scratchcard players are being advised to beware of a money-making scheme that could result in them promoting an illegal lottery.

The warning comes after the Gambling Commission was alerted to plans for a system which involved customers paying a monthly fee in return for digital scratchcards.

Customers are also told they will receive more scratchcards in return for encouraging others to take part - but by doing this the player may commit the offence of promoting an illegal lottery. Under the Gambling Act 2005, the penalty could be up to 51 weeks in jail and/or a fine.

Nick Tofiluk, Commission director of regulation, said: "The law is quite clear on this matter - you cannot promote a lottery for private or commercial gain.

"We would advise anyone thinking about taking part in any scheme that involves purchasing, or encouraging others to purchase, online scratchcards to think very carefully before promoting an illegal lottery to others."

Anyone wanting to promote a lottery in Britain must either have a gambling licence from the Gambling Commission or be registered with their local licensing authority. 

Members of the public can check if an organisation has a gambling licence by using the Commission's licence register. If ticket sales are less than £20,000 for a single lottery, or £250,000 from aggregated lotteries, in a calendar year, then the organiser should instead be registered with their local licensing authority. Customers can ask the lottery organiser which local licensing authority they are registered with.

Anyone who believes that an organisation, or person, does not have the necessary permissions to promote a lottery can contact the Commission's via its confidential intelligence line 0121 230 6655.

Consumers may also want to read the Commission's How do I know if a lottery is legal webpage.

Notes to editors

  1. The Gambling Commission (the Commission) regulates gambling in the public interest alongside its co-regulators local licensing authorities. It does so by keeping crime out of gambling, by ensuring that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and by protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling. Subject to these overriding public protection objectives, as regulator of the National Lottery the Commission monitors and challenges Camelot to raise the maximum amount for good causes. The Commission also provides independent advice to government on gambling in Britain. 
  2. See the Terms & Conditions section of our website for information on  legal advice.
  3. Read more about lotteries (and raffles) on the Gambling Commission's website
  4. The Gambling Commission does not comment on ongoing cases.
  5. Journalists can contact our press office on 0121 230 6700 or email: communications@gamblingcommission.gov.uk
Posted on 14 September 2015