Everyone – event attendees and organisers – loves a good raffle, right? It’s cheap and easy fun for all the family, with none of the risk of the blackjack table.

Unfortunately, there are rules in the United Kingdom which govern how such raffles can be run and operated. The effect of the Gambling Act 2005, which replaced the old and outdated statutory framework under the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, is that under certain circumstances a raffle could be considered a licensable activity.

If you read my last post on Types of Licensable Activities, then it may have become apparent that to run an event without the need for a license would take some of the hassle out of the organisation of an event.

This post is designed to give you a quick overview of when you will need a license for a raffle so as to avoid falling foul of the Gambling Act 2005.

Raffles as Lotteries

Under the Gambling Act 2005 there is a differentiation between games of skill and games of chance.

A game of skill is a game where the skill requirement would either deter a significant proportion of potential participants from entering or prevent a significant proportion from winning a prize. Games of skill are outside of the act. So if you’re running a game of skill, you will not be running a lottery.

If a game is one of chance then it will become a “lottery” (such as raffles) and hence a licensable activity unless certain other conditions are met.

It may be of interest to note that any lotteries where the proceeds go to charity are exempt from the act. This is provided the following conditions are met:

• There is no private gain from the raffle (Organisers may deduct up to £500 for a prize, and £100 for costs)
• There is no roll over
• Tickets must only be sold at the event
• Raffle must not be the main inducement to attend
• The results are announced before the end of the event

You may not need a license to give alcohol away as a prize, but only if all of the following are satisfied:

• The raffle is an incident of exempt entertainment
• There is no private gain from the raffle
• Alcohol must be in a sealed container
• No other prize in the lottery can be money
• Tickets must only be sold at the event
• Raffle must not be the main inducement to attend

If you cannot run your raffle within the parameters above (let’s say you wish to privately gain, or give both cash and alcohol as a prize) you will need a premises licence. As always, I would recommend you speak to your council early about their processes and procedures to ensure that your guests aren’t left without intended prizes!


As always, here are some take away points to consider when planning your event:

1. Raffles are an important part of a lot of events around the country. You should consider them with the question of whether you need a license or not.
2. Raffles where the proceeds go to charity are completely exempt under certain circumstances – may be worth considering, as it’s a good bit of PR for your event too!
3. If you are giving alcohol away as a prize, you may not need a premises license if certain conditions are met. This will limit the types of alternate prize you can offer, whether you can profit from the raffle, and when you can start selling tickets.
4. If you wish to give both cash and alcohol as a prize, it is regulated entertainment that would require either a premises license or a temporary events notice.
5. As usual, you should speak with the local council and acquire these as soon as possible.


Craig Ineson is a law graduate of the University of Liverpool, current student of international business law at master’s level, a passionate restaurant reviewer, and experienced content writer.
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