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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


10 - Administration and returns

34.49. As the purpose of permitted lotteries is to raise money for non-commercial causes, the Act requires that a minimum proportion of the money raised by the lottery is channelled to the goals of the society that promoted the lottery. If a small society lottery does not comply with these limits, it will be in breach of the Act’s provisions, and consequently be liable to prosecution.

34.50. The limits are as follows:

  • at least 20 percent of the lottery proceeds must be applied to the purposes of the society (Schedule 11, paragraph 33)
  • no single prize may be worth more than £25,000 (Schedule 11, paragraph 34)
  • rollovers between lotteries are only permitted where every lottery affected is also a small society lottery promoted by the same society, and the maximum single prize is £25,000 (Schedule 11, paragraph 35)
  • every ticket in the lottery must cost the same and the society must take payment for the ticket fee before entry into the draw is allowed (Schedule 11, paragraph 37).

34.51. Paragraph 39 of Schedule 11 in the Act sets out the information that the promoting society of a small society lottery must send as returns to the licensing authority with which it is registered, following each lottery held. This information allows licensing authorities to assess whether financial limits are being adhered to and to ensure that any money raised is applied for the proper purpose.

34.52. The following information must be submitted:

  • the arrangements for the lottery – specifically the date on which tickets were available for sale or supply, the dates of any draw and the value of prizes, including any donated prizes and any rollover
  • the total proceeds of the lottery
  • the amounts deducted by the promoters of the lottery in providing prizes, including prizes in accordance with any rollovers
  • the amounts deducted by the promoters of the lottery in respect of costs incurred in organising the lottery
  • the amount applied to the purpose for which the promoting society is conducted (this must be at least 20 percent of the proceeds)
  • whether any expenses incurred in connection with the lottery were not paid for by deduction from the proceeds, and, if so, the amount of expenses and the sources from which they were paid.

34.53. Paragraph 39 of Schedule 11 in the Act also requires that returns must:

  • be sent to the licensing authority no later than three months after the date of the lottery draw, or in the case of ‘instant lotteries’ (scratchcards) within three months of the last date on which tickets were on sale
  • be signed (electronic signatures are acceptable if the return is sent electronically) by two members of the society, who must be aged 18 or older, are appointed for the purpose in writing by the society or, if it has one, its governing body, and be accompanied by a copy of their letter or letters of appointment.

34.54. The Commission may inspect a society’s returns, although it will not routinely do so. As such, licensing authorities are required to retain returns for a minimum period of three years from the date of the lottery draw. They should also make them available for inspection by the general public for a minimum period of 18 months following the date of the lottery draw. Licensing authorities should ensure that information is made available to the public regarding the location of statements, when they can be viewed and the cost of obtaining copies.

34.55. Licensing authorities should allow for returns to be sent to them both electronically and manually. The Commission recommends that each licensing authority should make details concerning the form of returns required available through appropriate media, such as licensing authority websites and leaflets.

34.56. Where societies run more than one lottery in a calendar year, licensing authorities must monitor the cumulative totals of returns to ensure that societies do not breach the annual monetary limit of £250,000 on ticket sales. Licensing authorities must notify the Commission if returns reveal that a society’s lotteries have exceeded the values permissible, and such notifications should be copied to the society in question. The Commission will contact the society to determine if they are going to apply for a lottery operator’s licence, thereby enabling them to run large society lotteries lawfully, and will inform the licensing authority of the outcome of its exchanges with the society.

34.57. Licensing authorities will also need to be aware of the status of external lottery managers, when monitoring returns. They are an individual, a firm or a company appointed by a society to manage a lottery or lotteries on behalf of the society and are generally consultants that take their fees from the expenses of the lottery. A maximum of 80 percent of a lottery’s proceeds may be attributed to expenses and prizes, and managers’ fees must be included within this total.

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Application and registration process for small society lotteries
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