Lottery, raffle and bingo licences

Small raffles

If you are holding a straightforward, ‘cloakroom ticket’ style raffle at an event such as a fete or works event it is likely that you do not need to be registered.

New legislation effective 6 April 2016 has enabled a number of lotteries including raffles and other similar promotions to be used to raise charitable funds and can now be held at both non-commercial and commercial events. The new legislation makes it easier for small charities to raise funds at previously off limit events (commercial), running lotteries that do not require the winner to be announced at the event and being able to receive donations from private lotteries (such as those held at sports and other members clubs).

You can raise funds as part of an incidental lottery without being registered. 

These are exempt from registration if: 

  • There will be no lottery roll over.
  • Tickets will only be sold during the event and on the premises where the event is being held.
  • No proceeds from the event will be used for the purposes of private gain.
  • The lottery is promoted wholly for a purpose other than that of private gain (i.e. for a charitable purpose or good cause).
  • The promoters of the lottery will not be deducting more than £500 from the proceeds in respect of the cost of prizes.
  • The promoters of the lottery will not be deducting more than £100 from the proceeds in respect of the cost of other expenses. 

Alternatively, you can hold a " private“, “work" or " residents' "  lottery whereby the promoters and the tickets are confined to members, colleagues or residents of a society, club, institution or private residence for example. This would mean tickets could not be sold to the general public at large. Other restrictions apply, including:

  • There will be no lottery rollover.
  • Tickets must be the same price and are non-transferable.
  • The lottery must only be advertised on the private, work or residents’ premises according to the type of lottery being held.
  • In relation to work lotteries, funds can be raised for charitable purposes with all proceeds being returned as prizes and being used to cover reasonable expenses.
  • In relation to private lotteries, the lottery must be promoted for the purposes for any charitable or non-commercial purpose. 
  • In relation to residents' lotteries, the lottery can now be used to raise funds for any purpose other than private or commercial gain.

 If you are going to sell tickets in advance or wish to have higher value prizes, you will need to register with the council and pay a small fee to cover this registration. 

Small scale bingo

If you run a small bingo event, e.g. in a care home or school, to raise money for a charity or good cause where all the prizes are put up in advance and are not dependent on the number of players or amount of money collected then you are not required to be registered. Players must be informed of the good cause for which you are raising funds and all the funds raised minus reasonable costs must go to the good cause. 

Small Society Lottery Licence

The details of the legislation controlling raffles, lotteries and bingo are shown below. Please read them carefully if you are planning on running a more complex raffle, lottery or bingo operation. 

The council follows the guidance issued by the Gambling Commission prohibiting the sale of small society lottery/raffle tickets in the street in line with the law controlling such sales for large lotteries. Lottery/raffle tickets may be sold from kiosks or booths located in public areas. Any such kiosks or booths must be semi-permanent in nature and remain in situ and staffed during normal hours (09:00 to 17:00) until at least the date of the lottery draw.

A lottery defined as per section 14 of the Gambling Act 2005, is either simple or complex according to the following:


  • Persons are required to pay to participate
  • One or more prizes are allocated to one or more members of a class
  • The prizes are allocated by a process which relies wholly on chance


  • Persons are required to pay to participate
  • One or more prizes are allocated to one or more members of a class
  • The prizes are allocated by a series of processes and the first of those processes relies wholly on chance.

A society is defined as one which is established and conducted:

  • for the purpose of enabling participation in, or of supporting sport, athletics or
  • a cultural activity or
  • any other non-commercial purpose other than that of private gain.

The society must have been established for one of the above purposes, not solely to facilitate the lotteries and the proceeds of any lottery held must be devoted to these purposes. 

Societies wishing to hold any type of "draw" that will be open to the general public will need to apply to the licensing authority where their principal office is located for a small lotteries licence.

  •  At least 20% of the proceeds must be applied to the purposes of the society
  • No single prize may be worth more than £25,000
  • Every ticket must cost the same and the society must take payment prior to entry into the draw being permitted
  • Rollovers are only permitted where each lottery is promoted by the same society as a small society lottery
  • Total value of tickets per single lottery should be no greater than £20,000 and total value of tickets on sale for a calendar year must not exceed £250,000.

You can apply for a licence using the application form (230.0 KB) Word 97-2003 . Your completed application should be returned along with your payment to the Licensing Team (see address in Contact section of this page). 

Registration fees

The cost for such a licence is £40 and they run for a year. These costs are set by the Government. If you wish to renew the licence in subsequent years, the cost is currently £20 per annum normally due on 1 January of each year or within the period of two months prior to the anniversary of the registration. It is the responsibility of the lottery promoter to ensure prompt payment of the renewal fee. Non-payment of the renewal fee will mean that the licence will be surrendered and a new application will need to be completed prior to any lottery activity being licensed.

Tickets sold as part of a registered society lottery may only be sold by persons aged 16 or over, to persons aged 16 or over and may not be sold in a street (however, they may be sold from a kiosk, in a shop or door to door). They should be issued in physical (printed) or virtual form (i.e. in the form of an email or text message). The ticket must detail:-

  • the name of the society
  • the name and address of the promoter
  • the date of the lottery draw
  • the price of the ticket (which must be the same for all tickets) 

Once registered, societies have to submit a return (221.5 KB) Word 97-2003 no later than three months after each lottery showing the amounts collected, the amount spent on prizes and any expenses concerned with conducting the lottery. The return should be signed by two members of the society who must be aged eighteen or older, are appointed for the purpose in writing by the society, (or, if it has one, its governing body) and accompanied by a copy of their letter/s of appointment and returned, completed to:

Licensing Team
South Oxfordshire District Council (see address in Contact section of this page)

Cash bingo 

Cash bingo is primarily a commercial activity, and is licensed and regulated by The Gambling Commission. If you wish to provide cash bingo on a commercial basis you should consult the Gambling Commission website.


Lotteries not promoted by societies or where the value of tickets for sale in a lottery exceeds £20,000 have to register with the Gambling Commission and not the council.

Last reviewed: 13 - 03 - 2017

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