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Advice and guidance updates

Society lottery reforms from July 2020

Following a consultation held last year, the following changes to limits and guidance around society lotteries will take effect from the 29 July 2020.

Limits on the size of society lotteries will be raised in line with recent Government legislation. This will mean:

  • The limit of individual draw proceeds will rise to £5million from £4million,
  • The annual aggregate limit proceeds will increase to £50million, up from £10million, and;
  • The maximum individual prize will rise to £500,000 from £400,000, provided that the lottery proceeds reach the new maximum individual draw level.

Requirements and guidance

New requirements and guidance will be put in place to provide clear, transparent and easily accessible information to consumers on:

  • How much is returned to the good causes and what good causes they’re supporting
  • How much is spent on prizes
  • How much is spent on expenses
  • The process around the awarding of grants
  • The way in which winners are determined and prizes allocated
  • The potential prizes available, and;
  • The likelihood of winning a prize

Further details on the new requirements are available in the guidance for all lottery licensees (PDF), including local authority lotteries licence holders.

Bingo via remote communications

We have seen operators looking for options that will allow them to continue to offer bingo games to consumers while their bingo premises are closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. These normally include some form of remote communication, for example, broadcasting games over the internet via social media, meeting apps, other websites or via a telephone link for customers to play along at home.

LAs are reminded that if operators wish to do this, they must have a full remote bingo operating licence from the Commission. Many premises-based bingo operators only hold a non-remote and an ancillary remote operating licence. However these do not permit them to provide games outside of their premises. This is because one of the conditions placed on bingo ancillary licences is for the bingo facilities to be provided only to people on the licensed premises, as set out in 16(3)(b)(ii) of the Gambling (Operating Licence and Single-Machine Permit Fees) Regulations 2017 (opens in new tab).

Bingo can also be offered by alcohol licensed premises (such as pubs) and certain clubs under the rules for exempt gaming, and as non-commercial equal chance or prize gaming by people wishing to fundraise. However, the rules for these types of bingo games mean that they cannot be run via the internet, telephone or any other means of remote communication.

Premises annual fee refunds and partial payments

Following a number of queries in relation to refunds of premises licence annual fees, we have signposted LAs to the information provided in last summer’s bulletin.

The Commission’s view is that no regulations providing for refunds have been made under section 184(4) of the Gambling Act (opens in new tab), and so LAs do not have the discretion to refund annual fees for premises licences where the operator ceases to trade during the year.

Our view is that the power to authorise refunds is specifically reserved for the Secretary of State by virtue of section 184(4). Similarly, there is no scope within The Gambling (Premises Licence Fees) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab) or The Gambling (Premises Licence Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab) for pro-rata payment of annual fees where the premises intends to close within a few months of the fee being paid.

The Commission’s view is that a local authority doing either of these would be acting ultra vires; however, this is not legal advice and only the courts can make a final decision.


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