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Lottery licence

Definition of lotteries

Lotteries are regulated by the Gambling Act 2005 and fall into two overall definitions:

simple lottery where:

  • (a) persons are required to pay in order to take part and;
  • (b) one or more prizes are allocated to one or more participants by a process that relies wholly on chance.

complex lottery where:

  • (a) persons are required to pay in order to take part;
  • (b) one or more prizes are allocated to one or more of the participants;
  • (c) prizes are allocated by a series of processes;
  • (d) the first of those processes relies wholly on chance.


A prize includes any money, articles or services:

  • (a) whether or not described as a prize; and
  • (b) whether or not consisting wholly or partly of money paid, or articles or services provided, by the participants.

Promoting or facilitating a lottery is unlawful, unless it falls into one of the two categories of permitted lotteries:

  • Licensed Lotteries - regulated by the Gambling Commission;
  • Exempt Lotteries - regulated by the Licensing Authority.

Licensed Lotteries

Licensed lotteries are:

  • Large Society Lotteries;
  • Lotteries run for the benefit of Local Authorities.

These lotteries must have an Operating Licence issued by the Gambling Commission.

Exempted Lotteries

Small Society Lotteries

A small society lottery is a non-commercial lottery established and conducted for:

  • (a) charitable purposes;
  • (b) the purpose of enabling participation or support of sport, athletics, or cultural activities
  • (c) for any other non-commercial purpose other than that of private gain.

In order to qualify as a Small Society Lottery:

  • (a) at least 20% of the proceeds are applied to a purpose for which the society is conducted;
  • (b) it must not be possible for the purchaser of a ticket to win more than £25,000 whether in money, money's worth or a mixture of both;
  • (c) the prize may be rolled over, but only if each other lottery to which the prize is rolled over is also a small society lottery;
  • (d) the total value of tickets put on sale in a single lottery is £20,000 or less;
  • (e) the aggregate value of tickets put on sale in any year shall not exceed £250,000.

Application and Registration

  • (a) The promoting society must be registered with the Local Authority where the principal office is situated;
  • (b) The Licensing Authority must maintain a register of such registration;
  • (c) Notification of any registration will be sent to the Gambling Commission.


The Licensing Authority must refuse applications for registration if an Operating Licence held by the applicant has been refused or revoked in the previous 5 years.

The Licensing Authority can refuse an application if they believe:

  • (a) the applicant is not a non-commercial society;
  • (b) any person who will, or may be, connected to the promotion of the lottery has been convicted of a relevant offence;
  • (c) the information provided in or in support of the application is false or misleading.


A Licensing Authority may revoke the registered status of a society if it thinks that they would have been compelled or entitled to refuse an application for registration had it been made at that time.

The society may make representations as to why revocation should not take place.

The Licensing Authority will provide reasons and an outline of the evidence that gives rise to consideration of a revocation of the registration.


Any appeal against a refusal to grant or the revocation of a registration must be made to a Magistrates Court within 21 days of receiving notice of the decision.

The Magistrates may:

  • (a) affirm the decision of the Licensing Authority;
  • (b) reverse the decision of the Licensing Authority;
  • (c) make any other order.

How to apply

Apply for a non-commercial lottery/society registration form

Applicants must also complete a disclosure and declaration of convictions form. Relevant offences under the act are also listed. Please read the guidance notes before applying.

Please also refer to our privacy notice under the General Data Protection Regulation.

Lottery returns

A return must be sent to the Council after a lottery has been held.

Download a lottery return form

Please send your registration forms to Licensing, Cornwall Council, Dolcoath Avenue, Camborne, TR14 8SX.


There is a registration fee of £40.00. 

The registration period is indefinite, but its continuation depends on payment of an annual fee of £20.00.  We will send an annual fee reminder each year.

Private Lotteries

All private lotteries must comply with certain conditions:

  • Rollovers are prohibited.
  • The rights conferred by the ticket are not transferable and this should be made clear on the ticket.
  • a) The name and address of the promoter.
  • b) The class of person to whom tickets may be sold.
  • c) The price of the ticket.
  • d) Every ticket must be the same price and money must be paid prior to the purchase of the ticket.
  • e) Private lotteries may not be conducted on vessels.
  • Each ticket must state:

Private lotteries fall into the following types:

Private Society Lottery

These can only be promoted by authorised members of the society to other members of the society or to persons on the society premises.

The society may only be promoted for a purpose for which the society is conducted.

A society can be any group or society provided it is not established and conducted for purposes connected to gambling.

Work Lotteries

The promoter of a work lottery must work on the premises and tickets must only be sold to other people who work on the same premises.

The lottery must not be run for profit and all the proceeds must be used for prizes or reasonable expenses incurred in organising the lotteries.

Customer Lotteries

A customer lottery is a lottery run by the occupiers of a business premises who sell only to customers present on their premises.

The following conditions apply:

  • (a) Tickets can only be sold to persons on the businesses premises as a customer of the promoter.
  • (b) The lottery must be arranged to ensure that no profit is made – proceeds can only be used for prizes and reasonable expenses.
  • (c) A ticket in a customer lottery may only be sold or supplied by the promoter or by someone on their behalf.
  • (d) No advertisement may be displayed or distributed, except on the premises, nor sent to any other premises. The lottery may thus only be advertised on the premises on which it is held.
  • (e) No ticket may result in the winning of a prize worth more than £50.00.
  • (f) No rollover of prizes is permitted.
  • (g) There must be at least 7 days between customer lotteries.
  • (h) Each ticket must state:
    • The name and address of the promoter.
    • The class of persons who can take part.
    • That the rights on the ticket are not transferable.
    • Customer lotteries may not be conducted on vessels.

Residents' Lotteries

The promoter must reside on a single set of premises and tickets may only be sold to other residents of the same set of premises.

These lotteries must not be run for profit and all the proceeds must be used for prizes or reasonable expenses.

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