The Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976 (as amended) controls the conduct of small lotteries, raffles etc. by societies to raise money for charitable purposes.

A society wishing to promote a lottery must be registered with the council for the area in which their head office is located.

Registering a society
The council may register a society which is established for one of the following purposes:

  1. charitable purposes;
  2. participation in or support of athletic sports or games or cultural activities;
  3. purposes which, not described given in (1) or (2) above, are neither purposes of private gain or commercial undertaking.

If the total value of chances (tickets) sold for any one lottery is less than £20,000, or the total for all lotteries held by the society in a calendar year is less than £250,000, then the society must register with its local council.

If a society wishes to run lotteries which exceed these amounts they must register with the gaming board and must promote all further lotteries (of whatever size) held in that or the three following calendar years under the board's registration, and will not be able to change to a local authority registration during that time.

Application for registration must be made to the council and a registration certificate may be issued unless:

  1. the society does not appear to be established for the purposes for which a registration may be granted; or
  2. the Gaming Board have refused or revoked the registration of the society within the last five years (except where the refusal was on the grounds of non-payment of fees); or
  3. a person connected with a lottery has been convicted of:
  • i) an offence under sections 2 or 13 of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976; or,
  • ii) an offence under paragraph 14 of Schedule 1, paragraph 14 of Schedule 1A, paragraph 8 or 9 of Schedule 2, or paragraph 12 of Schedule 2A to the Act, or paragraph 12 of Schedule 7 to the Betting and Gaming Act 1963; or,
  • an offence under section 42 or 45 of the 1963 Act; or,
  • an offence involving fraud or dishonesty

4. false information has been given by the society in connection with its application for registration.

If the council propose to refuse to register a society they will first give the society an opportunity of being heard, and will notify their decision to the society. If registration is finally refused the society has a right to appeal to the Crown court, except where the gaming board have refused or revoked the society's registration.

If the society is registered, the council may subsequently decide that the registration should be revoked if the society no longer falls within the provisions of section 5 of the act or if any person is convicted of an offence mentioned above. In such cases the procedure applicable to the refusal of a registration applies.

When applying for a registration the society must pay a registration fee. Each registration expires on the enter date each year and if a society wishes to continue to be registered they must pay a renewal fee on or before the enter date of the following year. Currently the fee is £35.00.

A society may employ an external lottery manager to undertake the running of a lottery on its behalf. The persons who may manage a society's lottery are:

  • a member of the society,
  • an employee of the society,
  • a company that is wholly owned by the society,
  • a person certificated as a lottery manager by the gaming board under section 2A to the Act.
  • an employee of a certificated lottery manager acting in the course of his employment.

Applications for certification of lottery managers should be made to the gaming board.

Lottery returns
When a lottery has been held, the promoter must complete and send a return form to the council, not later than the end of the third month after the date of the lottery. The return must be certified by two members of the society, (other than the promoter) being persons 18 years old or over appointed in writing by the society's governing body. Return forms will be sent to each society with their registration certificate. Further forms may be obtained from the council.

The council's authorised licensing inspectors may require that a society allows them to inspect and take copies of any documents or information, relating to a lottery promoted on behalf of the society, and give them such assistance as they may require to enable them to inspect and check the operation of any computer and any associated apparatus or material that is or has been used in connection with the keeping of information.

Conditions applicable to societies registered with the council
The total value of prizes which may be offered may not exceed 55% of the proceeds of the lottery, unless it can be shown that the proceeds were less than estimated.

The amount of proceeds given over to expenses (excluding prizes) must not exceed the actual expenses or 35% of the proceeds, whichever is the less, unless it can be shown that the proceeds fell short of the sum estimated.

The promoter of a lottery must be a member of the society authorised in writing by the governing body of the society to promote a lottery.

To prevent confusion, no two lotteries should have the same date; however, where a society holds two lotteries on the same date they must be distinguished by having different serial numbers on the tickets.

Every ticket must specify the name of the society, the name and address of the promoter and the date of the lottery. Where reference is made in any ticket to a person who for reward, is, or has been, acting or assisting in the promoting of a lottery, the size of the lettering must not exceed the size of the smallest lettering used to specify the name of the society.

Every ticket must specify that the society is registered with the council's.

No ticket or chance may be sold to any person under the age of 16 years.

No ticket may be sold to any person in any street (except from a kiosk or shop having no space to accommodate customers).

No ticket may be sold from a licensed betting office. No ticket or chance may be sold for more than £1, and the price of every ticket must be the same and printed on the ticket.

No prize may be offered on such terms that the winning of a prize depends on the purchase of more than one ticket or chance, unless the total price of the chances required to win a prize does not exceed £1.

No person may participate in a lottery except after paying the full price of a ticket or chance, and no money received for or on account of a ticket or chance may be returned.

No money other than the price of a ticket or chance may be accepted as a condition of a person's participation in a lottery.
The whole proceeds after deducting legitimate expenses or money allocated to prizes, must be allocated to the purposes of the society.

No person supplying lottery tickets may supply them in such a manner, or so marked, as to enable a winning ticket to be identified before it is sold. This applies to tickets (commonly known as 'instant lottery' tickets) which are designed so as to conceal words, figures symbols etc. which if revealed would indicate whether a ticket is a winning ticket or not.

Prizes may be donated to a lottery at a reduced cost or free, but the value of any such prizes may not exceed £25,000.

A society must approve a scheme for the promotion of any lottery and any scheme or modification to it must comply with the provisions of Schedule 2 to the Lotteries Regulation 1993.

Offences and penalties
Any breeches of the conditions of a society's registration constitutes an offence for which the promoter (unless the contravention took place with or without his or her knowledge) and any person who is a party to any breech of conditions will be liable to prosecution, and if found guilty on a summary conviction may be subject to a fine not exceeding £5,000, or if convicted on indictment, to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine or both.

Anybody found guilty of failing to complete return forms and send them to the council within three months of the date of a lottery, or falsifying a return form, may be subject to a fine not exceeding £5,000 if convicted on a summary offence or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine or both if convicted on indictment.

Further information
Copies of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976 and other legislation mentioned here may be obtained from Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

A copy of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976 can be inspected at the council offices, where you may also obtain application forms, return forms and further help or advice.

Contact info
Private sector housing enforcement
1st Floor Annexe, Town Hall, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 2BQ
Tel: 01582 546040
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