Incidental, non-commercial lotteries, also known as raffles, are typically held at fundraising events and must not be for private gain. Tickets must only be sold at the event, where the draw must also take place. No more than £100 can be deducted from sales for costs and prizes cannot total more than £500 (whether donated or bought).
If you want to run a race night, which is an event where participants stake money on the outcome of recorded or virtual races to raise money for a charity or other good cause, you can do so as long as you tell the players what the event is for and who you are raising money for, and, apart from reasonable costs, proceeds raised at the event are given to the good cause.
The maximum amount that a player may be charged is £8 per day (this includes entrance or participation fees, betting stakes and any other payments in relation to the gaming).
Organisers must ensure that the total amount paid out in prizes remains below £600 in total across all players. However, where an event is the final one of a series in which all of the players have previously taken part, a higher prize fund of up to £900 is allowed.
This could take place, for example, where each participant pays a fee for a randomly selected ‘horse’ in each ‘race’ and the participant with the winning horse or the person who selected the winning horse receives a prize commensurate with the stakes placed.
You do not need any kind of licence from the Gambling Commission to run a prize competition under the Gambling Act 2005.
A prize competition is a competition where success depends to a substantial degree on the exercise of skill, knowledge, or judgment. Such competitions may involve answering questions, solving puzzles, tie-breakers and so on.
Your competition could be classed as relying on chance if it does not prevent:
a significant proportion of people from taking part
a significant proportion of people who do take part from receiving a prize.
If a competition relies on chance it may be considered a lottery and could be unlawful. For more information on running prize competitions please refer to the Gambling Commission.
Poker Game, Casino Night or Tournament
You do not need a licence, permit or any other form of permission to run what is called non-commercial equal chance gaming (for example, a poker night organised to raise money for charity), as long as you comply with the statutory conditions, including any limits on participation fees, and stakes and prizes. The players must be told what good cause is to benefit from the profits of the gaming. Under 16s are not allowed to participate.
Please be aware that for stakes and prizes, the maximum values include both money and money's worth. Money's worth is the fair or full equivalent of the money that is paid and includes payment in kind, vouchers, goods, donated items, goody-bags or other items which have a value.
No matter how many games you run or a participant expects to play in, they must not make more than one payment (whether as an admission or participation fee, stake or other charge, or a combination of those charges), and this payment must not exceed £8.
The total amount or value of prizes for all the games played at your event must not exceed £600.
If you are running more than one event on the same premises and on the same day, the £8 participation fee and £600 total prize limit are collective totals applying to all games played in all the events – these are not the fees and limits for each separate game and event. If you are running a series of events held on separate days, the limits of £8 and £600 apply separately to each event.
In the final event of a series, where people have qualified by playing at previous events, the total amount or value of prizes for all the games played at the final event can be up to £900. You cannot promote any other event on the same premises on the same day as that on which the final event takes place.
The money you raise from the event is called the proceeds. None of the proceeds should be used for private gain. You should give all proceeds to the good cause (including any entrance fees, sponsorship, fees for traders stalls and other fees), minus the costs reasonably incurred by organising the event. Reasonable costs would include costs incurred by providing the prizes.
If third parties are selling goods or services at your event, for example someone selling refreshments, this does not count as money raised for the charity or good cause.
For more information on fundraising visit the Gambling Commission.