Small Society Lotteries (raffles, lotteries and tombolas) Licence

Frequently asked questions:

Key points about running a lottery including tombolas, sweepstakes and raffles

• Anyone running a lottery that permits the sale of tickets before an event, or away from the place where the event is held, is going to need either a licence from the

Commission or registration with their local authority (there are some exceptions to this – please check)

• There are limits in place for how much you can spend on ticket sales for a single prize (but no limits on donated prizes)

• All tickets must cost the same (unless they are run at a specific event – these are called incidental lotteries) and a ticket must be provided for each entry

• If you are a business running a lottery for your customers, you cannot run them for profit or for good causes – all the money from ticket sales must be spent on prizes or


• You cannot roll over unallocated or unclaimed prizes to another lottery unless you are running your lotteries under a Gambling Commission licence or local authority



Why do I need a licence?

A lottery has been defined as "a scheme for distributing prizes by lot or chance". If a prize is awarded by skill alone then the scheme is not a lottery. Large lotteries are licensed by the Gambling Commission. Draws at fetes, bazaars, dinners, dances, sporting events and other entertainments of a similar nature are exempt from being registered as a Small Society Lottery and are permitted as an incidental non-commercial lottery provided any ticket is sold at the time and place of the entertainment, the lottery is not the chief attraction of the event, there is no rollover, no more than £100 is deducted from the proceeds in respect of expenses (such as the cost of printing tickets), no more than £500 is spent on prizes and none of the proceeds are devoted to private/personal gain. There is also an exemption for customer lotteries.

What will I have to do?

If a society, club or charity wishes to raise funds by selling tickets to the general public in advance of any draw then a small lotteries registration under the Gambling Act 2005 must be taken out with the local authority in whose area the society etc is based, or their head office is based. For example, a local school PTA wishing to sell tickets for an annual summer fete will need to be registered with Test Valley Borough Council. For tickets sold on behalf of a national charity it is likely that the charity will hold a small lottery registration with the local authority in whose area the charity's head office is located, in which case, a further registration with Test Valley Borough Council would be unnecessary. Potential promoters or organisers are advised to check.

What does the application process involve?

To register as a small society lottery you must complete the application form and submit it with the registration fee of £40. The application will be processed and a registration certificate issued as soon as possible.

What does the evaluation process involve?

The application will be processed and a certificate of registration issued unless the applicant is not a non-commercial society, in which case the application is likely to be refused.

Will Tacit Consent apply?

No. However, provided the application is in order we aim to process all applications within 14 days.

Can I make my application online?

Please note that at the present time there is no facility to submit online applications. The application form is available on this website - see documents. Once completed this should be sent to:


Licensing Section
Test Valley Borough Council
Beech Hurst
Weyhill Road
SP10 3AJ


The registration will last for 12 months and at the end of that period you will be invited to renew the registration for a further 12 months in which case a renewal fee of £20 is payable.

What can I do if my application fails?

Applications for registration of small society lotteries may be refused. You will be advised if this happens and given the opportunity to attend a hearing where you will be able to explain why you think the registration should be granted.

What can I do if I am unhappy about the licence conditions?

There are no conditions as such applied to small society lottery registrations. However, small society lotteries must be conducted in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005 and meet certain requirements with regard to prize money, ticketing and filing of records.

How can I make a complaint?

Please contact us in the first instance.

Are there other types of redress?

If you have a complaint against a lottery promoter or operator, we would advise you first to contact that person, preferably by letter. If that does not work please contact us.

Are there any trade associations?

See external links on this page.