Small society lotteries
This registration is required when your non-commercial organization intends to sell printed raffle tickets in advance of the date on which the draw will take place.
A typical 'small society lottery' is a raffle where players buy a ticket with a number on it. The tickets are randomly drawn and those holding the same numbered tickets wins the prizes.
Another version is a sweepstake – for example where the participants pay to randomly pick a name in a 'guess the name of the soft toy' game. The person who guesses the winning name wins the soft toy.
Registration must be with the Local Authority in which the societies principle office is situated.
Who can apply
You do not need to be a registered charity to run a raffle/lottery, however they cannot be run for private or commercial gain. You will need to set up as a society if you are looking to be registered as a small society lottery.
The society must be set up for non-commercial purposes, for example charitable. A society is non-commercial if it is established and conducted:
- For charitable purposes
- For the purpose of enabling participation in, or of supporting, sport, athletics or a cultural activity, or
- For any other non-commercial purpose other than that of private gain.
You can download the small society registration form. The form should be fully completed and accompanied by the specified fee and appropriate documents. We are unable to accept online applications for a small society lottery registration.
Registrations operate for an unlimited period (subject to an annual renewal fee) unless the registration is cancelled or revoked. In such circumstances, the Local Authority will notify the Gambling Commission that this has occurred.
New applicants may be asked to provide a copy of the Society's terms and conditions or their constitution to this authority. This is to determine that they are a non-commercial society.
The Licensing Authority must refuse the application if, in the previous five years to the application being made:
- An operating licence held by the applicant for registration has been revoked by the Gambling Commission; or
- An application for an operating licence made by the applicant has been refused by the Gambling Commission.
The Licensing Authority may refuse the application if they think that:
- The applicant is not a non-commercial society
- A person who will or may be connected with the promotion of
the lottery has been convicted of a relevant offence under Schedule 7 of
- Information provided in or with the application for registration is found to be false or misleading.
Additionally, the registration of a society may be revoked by the Local Authority if it thinks that they would have had to, or would be entitled to, refuse an application for registration if it were being made at that time.
An application for registration may only be refused or revoked by the Local Authority after the society has been given the opportunity to make representations. Representations may be made at a formal hearing or through correspondence. The society will, in the first instance, be informed by the Local Authority as to the reasons why they consider the application for registration should be refused/revoked and will be provided with a summary of the evidence on which the preliminary conclusion has been made. This is to enable representations to be made.
The applicant or society has a right of appeal the decision of the Local Authority to the local Magistrates’ Court within 21 days of receipt of the determination notice.
Conditions relating to small society lotteries
The total value of tickets to be sold per single lottery must not exceed £20,000, or the collective value of tickets to be sold for all the lotteries must not exceed £250,000 in a calendar year. If a society plans to exceed either of these values they must be licensed with the Gambling Commission, as they are a classed as a large operator.
Prizes awarded can be either cash or non-monetary; they can be cash, goods or services.
Up to 80% of the gross proceeds of any lottery may be divided between prizes and expenses incurred with the running of the lottery.
Donated prizes are not counted as part of this 80% (as no money is withdrawn from the proceeds to cover their purchase). However, this should still be specified on the return after the draw (see section ‘Lottery Returns’ below).
No single prize can be worth more than £25,000 (whether in money, money’s worth, or partly the one and partly the other).
Rollovers between lotteries are permitted but only where every lottery affected is also a small society lottery promoted by the same society, and the maximum single prize is £25,000.
At least 20% of the lottery proceeds must be applied to the purposes for which the society was set up
You can offer alcohol as a prize although it cannot be given to a winner under the age of 18. As long as the prizes are in sealed containers a Temporary Event Notice would not be required, although you may need one for other activities and attractions at the event. If someone who appears to be under 18 wins an alcoholic prize, checks should be made to verify their age.
Holders of a small society lottery can sell tickets prior to the event. Tickets can either be physical or virtual (for example an email). Tickets must show:
- The name of the promoting society;
- The price of the ticket (here is no maximum price you can charge for a ticket, however all tickets must cost the same);
- The name and address of the member of the society who is designated as having responsibility at the society for promotion of the lottery or the external lottery manager; and
- The date of the draw, or such information, which enables the date of the draw to be determined.
The requirement to provide this information can be satisfied by providing an opportunity for the participant to retain the message electronically or print it.
Sale of tickets
Tickets can only be sold to persons over the age of 16 years and sold by persons over the age of 16 years. Tickets may be sold from a kiosk, in a shop, or door to door. Tickets should not be sold in a street (which includes any bridge, road, lane, footway, subway, court or passage).
Filing of records
The registered society must provide a return not later than three months after the date of the each lottery draw to the Local Authority. Two members of the society (aged over 18) selected by the society for that purpose must sign each return. A copy of the letter or letters of appointment must be included with the return. Returns can be sent by post or electronically (electronic signatures are acceptable) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the small society return form.
The Local Authority is required to retain the returns for a minimum period of 18 months from the date of the lottery draw and they are available for inspection by members of the public during this period.
In order to maintain the registration, an annual fee is payable. The annual fee must be paid within the period of two months, which ends immediately before each anniversary of the registration. The anniversary is the date of registration by the local authority.
Failure to pay this fee will result in the society's registration being cancelled meaning that any lottery activity will be illegal. To continue to offer lottery activity a new application would need to be made and the registration granted before commencement of the activity.