Raffles and Lotteries

Lotteries are games where people buy a chance to win a prize. Raffles are a form of lottery and are widely used by fundraising organisations of all sizes, whether organised internally or by volunteers. The legislation surrounding lotteries can be far-reaching and it is important to be confident that you fully understand and comply by the regulations.

When thinking about planning a lottery (including a raffle), the first step needs to be to establish whether it is indeed a lottery that you are organising and whether a licence will be needed. To determine whether you need a licence, three important questions to ask yourself are:

  • Who will you sell tickets to?
  • Where will you sell the tickets?
  • When will you sell the tickets?


In answering these questions you should be able to determine which type of lottery you are organising. Some of the most commons types are:

  • small society lotteries
  • incidental lotteries
  • private lotteries
  • customer lotteries
  • large society lotteries


If you are concered about that your competition may not make enough money to cover costs, you may want to think about taking out insurance. Alternatively, you could think about approaching a local business to sponsor the prize.

Find out more about working with companies


Code of Fundraising Practice and Guidance

The Raffles and Lotteries section of the Code and supporting guidance explain the difference between different types of lottery and the different rules to be aware of in regards to licences, tickets and prizes.


The Code of Fundraising Practice highlight the law and best practice for a range of fundraising techniques.

Find out more about the Code of Fundraising Practice

If the lottery is being used as a means of collecting participants' data, the Data Protection section of the Legal Appendices of the Code may also be particularly relevant.

Read the Data Protection section of the Legal Appendices of the Code


Other Institute Resources

The Institute has also created an Introduction to Raffles briefing. This briefing is designed to be read in conjunction with the Code and provides a basic overview for people unfamiliar with using raffles to fundraise.

Read the Introduction to Raffles briefing


Further Information

Raffles come under the remit of the Gambling Act 2005 and are regulated by the Gambling Commission.

Read the Gambling Act 2005

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has also produced some useful facts sheets that include information about Bingo and Race Nights. Read the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's fact sheets


Prize Competitions and Free Draws

Prize competitions and free draws are not regulated in terms of gambling and therefore you do not need a licence to organise these activities.

Prize competitions are those which are not based wholly on chance. To qualify as a prize competition there needs to be a sufficient level of skill involved that will:

  • prevent a proportion of people from entering
  • prevent a proportion of people who have entered from winning


The outcome of a prize competition is determined by the application of skill, knowledge or judgment; not chance.

A free prize draw is a competition where all entries are free or entries can be made by paying or for free. In this case, free can mean any method of communication charged at a normal rate such as a first or second class stamp.

If organising a prize competition or free prize draw it is important to make sure that they qualify as these and you do not inadvertently organise an illegal lottery.

The Gambling Commission has produced guidance for people organising a prize competition or free prize draw.

Although not falling under gambling law, you still need to be aware of consumer legislation such as those for unfair commercial practices. The Office of Fair Trading and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has produced guidance on these regulations.

Find out more about the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.


Related links

Gambling Commission - Regulator for Gambling in the UK 

Understanding your requirements when delivering a successful lottery is no mean feat.

The information below will provide you with a good introduction to lotteries (including raffles).

Please be sure to have a look at both the relevant section of the Code of Fundraising Practice and the supporting guidance document. The Code of Fundraising Practice is the fundraising sector’s regulatory standards. All fundraisers should implement these standards where applicable.

Click here to see the lotteries section of the Code

Click here to see the accompanying lotteries guidance document


For IoF members we also have a growing set of insights and resources to assist you still further. Make sure to check back regularly as we will be adding content as and when it is ready.