Holding Raffles and Prize Draws

Fundraising activities that can be defined as lotteries come under the Gambling Act 2005 and are regulated by the Gambling Commission and local authorities. 

This includes any fundraising activity where:

  • people have to pay to enter

  • there is at least one prize on offer

  • prizes are awarded purely on chance

Raffles, prize draws, 100 clubs, sweepstakes and tombola are all types of lottery.  They all include the selling of tickets at a set price and the chances of winning are the same for everyone who enters. If your community group is planning to hold a fundraising activity of this kind, you will need to be aware of the relevant legal requirements.

The Gambling Act 2005 sets out no fewer than eight types of lottery. These include large society lotteries which are open to the general public, requiring either permission from the Gambling Commission or registration with a licensing authority.

Most lottery activities held by community groups as fundraising activities are likely to be small scale and will not require a license or registration. However, there are regulations relating to each of these permitted types of lottery and it is important that your community group is aware and complies with these.

Types of lottery commonly used for fundraising by community groups

Incidental non commercial lotteries

If your group is planning to hold a raffle or prize draw (lottery) as part of another event – perhaps as part of a dinner dance, sale of work or sporting event – then this is likely to be classed as an incidental non-commercial lottery.  

Your group will not require a license to hold this type of lottery as long as:

  • the event is non-commercial i.e. it is not run for private gain

  • the lottery takes place on the same premises as the non-commercial event

  • the results are made known at the event

There are specific rules relating to the amount of money you can spend on outlay for the lottery and the amount you can spend on buying prizes.

Private Lotteries

There are three types of private lottery permitted by the Gambling Act 2005:

  • private society lottery

  • work Lottery

  • residents lottery

The promotion of private lotteries and the sale of tickets must be restricted to within the club membership, works premises and employees or resident’s premises. There should be a single ticket price and the tickets themselves must be non transferable. The conditions of the private lottery as well as the promoters contact details should be stated on the tickets.

Private lotteries are only permitted as long as they are held to raise funds for a not-for-profit group or organisation.


Whatever ‘lottery’ you decide to hold, allow plenty of time to source prizes. Think about sourcing prizes which are relevant to your group’s aims and purposes or – if the raffle is part of an event – relevant to your theme. Wherever possible ask local businesses to donate prizes.

  • for small or private raffles aim for a range of prizes of different values

  • for larger raffles you may want to aim for a smaller number of high end prizes.

  • an unusual prize is often more attractive

If your community group is considering this fundraising option, check legal requirements with either your local authority or the Gambling Commission.

What should your tickets include?

If your group is planning to hold a raffle or prize draw (lottery) as part of another event – perhaps as part of a dinner dance, sale of work or sporting event – then this is likely to be classed as an incidental non-commercial lottery. For this type of lottery there is no specific requirement as to what your tickets should include, and most community groups use pre-printed raffle books with simple numbered tickets.

For private lotteries, the tickets should include:

  • the name of your community group of organisation as the promoter of the lottery

  • ticket price

  • any restrictions on who is permitted to buy a ticket

  • a statement to say that the ticket (and any rights created by the ticket) are non-transferable

Selling Your Raffle Tickets

  • the best way to sell raffle tickets of any kind is in person

  • no-one under the age of 16 years old is permitted to sell or buy lottery tickets

  • if you are selling your tickets at an event, enlist the help of a group of volunteers to make sure that everyone present has a chance to buy a ticket

  • selling tickets to the general public as part of a Society Lottery will require permission from the Gambling Commission and/or registration with your local authority.  If you intend to sell tickets house to house you will also need to check legislation on benevolent fundraising.

Best Practice Guidelines for drawing your raffle

Incidental non-commercial lotteries

If your raffle is being held as part of a fundraising event – perhaps at a gala or dinner dance – make the draw the highlight of your event. 

Treat it as the grand finale and build up the suspense by announcing it at regular intervals throughout the event:-

  • organise the press or your nominate photographer to be in place ready to record the draw

  • make sure that you have someone impartial to make the draw - ideally someone who has not bought a ticket.

Consider blindfolding them to add to the drama and to guarantee no cheating.

Larger society lotteries

Selling raffle tickets on a larger scale to the general public will fall under the definition of a Society Lottery. For this type of lottery your group will require permission from the Gambling Commission and/or registration with your local authority. If you have sold tickets to the general public on a large scale it is unlikely that your ticket holders will be able to attend the draw. 

However, you can still make the draw an occasion by:-

  • making sure that the date of the draw is on the tickets

  • using the opportunity to invite donors and/or sponsors to meet staff and committee or board members

  • getting the press to attend

The draw should be done by someone impartial.

Make sure that you contact winners within seven days of the draw and make sure that prizes are sent out as soon as possible. All reasonable efforts should be made to award prizes to the winning ticket owners.