The Gambling Commission has recently issued some guidance to the public about entering large prize raffles and lotteries such as “Win a House”.
Lotteries are a form of gambling regulated by the Gambling Act 2005 and involve paying for the right to enter a draw to win a prize. In the UK lotteries and raffles cannot be run for commercial gain; and in the majority of cases must be for good causes. The Commission reports that in 2017 over £230m was raised by society lotteries licensed by the Commission and it should be noted that a substantial amount will also have been raised by smaller lotteries registered with local authorities.
The raffling of houses and other large ticket prizes has been on the Commission’s radar for a number of years; the first property to catch their eye in 2008 was an estate in Devon valued at over £1 million. Since then there have been numerous competitions with not only houses but RVs put up as prizes. In order to avoid falling under the definition of a lottery the competition must incorporate an element of skill before any draw takes place; most commonly done by posing a question or series of questions that would be difficult enough to deter at least some people from entering, with those answering correctly progressing to the draw for the prize.
The Gambling Commission reports that it’s Intelligence Unit has investigated a number of competitions over the years and that of the 55 reported to them in 2017-18 only 13 received no further action. The most common complaints are around alternative prizes to those advertised, extensions to draw dates and completions closing down due to compliance issues. The website Loquax lists the outcomes of a number of “Win a House” competitions that came to their attention over the last 2 years with most resulting in cash prizes being given rather than the original prize.
Whilst the Gambling Commission will not give legal advice on whether such a lottery or raffle is legal they are quick to take action where such a competition is not. The Commission has provided consumers with details of who to make a complaint to according to the circumstances and further details can be found by clicking this link
If you are a business and require any advice on the gambling laws in the UK please call our licensing expert Debbie Bollard 01526 341162