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Lotteries - More Information

Information about the types of lottery permitted under the Gambling Act 2005

The Act creates two types of lottery - simple and complex.

Simple Lottery.  A lottery is a simple lottery if:

  • persons have to pay to participate,
  • prizes are allocated to one or more members of a class, and
  • the prizes are allocated wholly by chance.

Complex Lottery.  A lottery is a complex lottery if:

  • persons have to pay to participate,
  • prizes are allocated to one or more members of a class,
  • the prizes are allocated by a series of processes, and
  • the first of the processes relies wholly on chance.

Most lotteries organised by local societies and organisations will be simple lotteries.

We will aim to issue your registration within 6 working days of receipt of a valid application.

You can access further advice on Lotteries from the Gambling Commission Link on the right side of this page.


Contact Details for Licensing Team


Telephone: 01237 428700


Relevant Legislation

Lotteries are regulated under the Gambling Act 2005 which came into effect on 1st September 2007. This repealed the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976.

The Act introduced a number of changes to the law relating to lotteries. Most of the changes are minor and will not greatly affect the way in which society lotteries are run.

Categories of Lottery Provided for by the Act

The Act contains two categories of lottery - licensed lotteries and exempt lotteries.

Licensed Lotteries.  

These are generally lotteries run by large societies where the proceeds of a single lottery may exceed £20,000 or the total proceeds in any one year are likely to exceed £250,000.  These lotteries are regulated by the Gambling Commission and require an Operating Licence.

Exempt Lotteries.  

An exempt lottery is one which does not require a licence from the Gambling Commission.  There are three types of exempt lottery:

Small Society Lottery.  

This is a lottery run by a non-commercial society i.e. a society established and conducted for charitable purposes, or for the promotion of a sporting, athletic or cultural activity or for any non-commercial purpose other than private gain.  These lotteries must be registered with the local authority.

Incidental Non-Commercial Lottery. 

This is a small lottery which is incidental to a non-commercial event such as a raffle at a school fete or bazaar.  Tickets may only be sold at the premises during the event and the result  must be announced while the event takes place.  A maximum of  £500 may be deducted from proceeds for prizes and no more than £100 may be spent on other costs such as the printing of tickets.  'Rollovers' are not permitted for this type of lottery.

Private Lottery.   There are four sub-groups of private lottery recognised by the Act:    

  • Private Society Lottery.  These can only be promoted by authorised members of a recognised   society and tickets can only be sold to members of that same society or on the society's premises.  The lottery may only be promoted for the purpose for which the society is conducted.  Examples of this type of lottery might include lotteries held by a political club or a sports club.
  • Work Lottery.  The promoter of the lottery must work on the premises and tickets may only be sold to other people who work on the same premises (e.g. an office sweepstake).  The lottery must not be run for profit or private gain.
  • Residents' Lottery.  The promoter must reside on the premises and tickets may only be sold to persons residing at the premises. The lottery must not be run for profit or private gain.
  • Customer Lottery.This is a lottery run by the occupier of a business premises who sells tickets solely to customers on the premises.  The lottery may only be advertised on the premises on which it is held and no prize must exceed £50.00 in value.  A customer lottery must not take place within 7 days of another customer lottery held on the same premises.

Registering a Society

The new Act applies the same criteria as the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976.

You will need to register your society if it is established and conducted for:

  • charitable purposes
  • the purpose of enabling participation in, or of supporting, sport, athletics or a cultural activity, and
  • for any other non-commercial purpose other than private gain.

Your society must be established for one of these purposes.and the proceeds of any lottery must be allocated accordingly.  You cannot set up a society whose sole function is simply to hold lotteries.- it must have some other legitimate purpose.

There is a simple registration process. You will need to complete an application form (which can be downloaded from this page) and return it to the Council with the statutory registration fee.

The registration fee is £40.00. Cheques should be made payable to 'Torridge District Council' or alternatively we can call you to take a card payment once we receive a completed application form (please note we do not accept cash payments).

Your registration will remain in force indefinitely or until you wish to make a change to it (e.g. to register a new promoter). You must pay an annual fee of £20 to maintain your registration.  We will write to you to remind you when the annual fee is due.

Registering a Raffle

Draws or 'raffles' are generally exempt from any form of registration provided they are held as 'incidental' to a non-commercial event such as a village fete or a jumble sale.

A draw or raffle must not be held for private gain and there are a number of restrictions which you must comply with:

  • Raffle tickets must only be sold on the day of the event and the result must be announced while the event takes place;
  • No more than £500 may be deducted from the proceeds of the draw to cover the cost of prizes;
  • No more than £100 may be deducted from the proceeds of the draw to cover expenses such as the printing of tickets or hire of equipment.

If these criteria are met, there is no need to register the draw with the local authority.

Printing and Selling Lottery Tickets

There are a number of legal requirements you must comply with when having tickets printed.

Every ticket or chance must specify:

  • details of the promoting society
  • its price
  • the date of the lottery
  • the name and address of the promoter of the lottery

There is no maximum price for a ticket but all tickets must be sold at the same price.

Tickets or chances must not be sold in any street* but may be sold from a kiosk, a shop or door-to-door. 

Tickets or chances may be sold by means of a machine

Tickets may not be sold by persons under the age of 16.

At least 20% of the proceeds must be applied to a purpose for which the society is established.

(* 'street' includes any bridge, road, lane, footway, subway, square, court or passage)

Limits on Society Lotteries

The Act sets out a number of important restrictions which are listed below.

  • at least 20% of the lottery proceeds must be used for the purposes for which the society has been set up.
  • no single prize may be worth more than £25,000.
  • there is a top limit of £20,000 on ticket sales.
  • 'rollovers' are only permitted where every lottery affected is also a small society lottery promoted by the same society.
  • every ticket in the lottery must cost the same and the society must take payment for the ticket fee before entry to the draw is allowed.


Lottery Return Forms

You are required by law to submit a return to the local authority after each lottery setting out how the proceeds have been spent.

Your return must be made within three months of the date of the lottery. . The return must show the amount of money raised by the lottery and how this has been spent.  You can download a return form by clicking on the icon on the right.. No more than 80% of the proceeds must be allocated to prizes and the legitimate expenses of running the lottery. This does not include donated prizes although these should still be declared on your return.

Refusal of Lottery Applications

In certain circumstances, the local authority may refuse an application to register a society lottery.

An application may be refused for the following reasons:

  • an application for an operating licence made by the applicant for registration has been refused by the Gambling Commission or an operating licence held by the applicant has been revoked.
  • the society is not deemed to be a non-commercial organisation (i.e. proceeds are being used for private gain)
  • a person connected with the promotion of the lottery has been convicted of a 'relevant' offence.
  • information provided in connection with the application is found to be false or misleading.

The licensing authority may only refuse an application after the society has had the opportunity to make representations.

The licensing authority may also revoke a society's registration.

Free Draws and Prize Competitions

Free draws are exempt from registration as no fee is paid to participate in the draw. Prize competitions are also exempt provided that they rely at least in part on the exercise of skill, judgement or knowledge by the participants. In other words, prizes are not allocated wholly by chance.

Prize competitions are a difficult area.  If you are thinking of running a prize competition, we strongly recommend that you contact the Gambling Commission or seek your own professional legal advice to ensure that you comply with the law.

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