Small Society Lotteries

What is a lottery?

A lottery can otherwise be known as a raffle or a draw.  It cannot be run for private or commercial gain.  The definition also covers ‘open the box’ type of draws, as well as ‘totes’ which are often held in members clubs.

A lottery consists of 3 elements:

  • people are required to pay to participate
  • one or more prizes are allocated to one or more persons
  • the prizes are allocated by a process which relies wholly on chance

Section 19 of the Gambling Act 2005 defines a ‘society’ as such if established and conducted:

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

Application and registration process

The society must be ‘non-commercial’.  Promoting society and local authority lotteries provides information for those seeking to run small and large society lotteries.  Organising small lotteries provides advice on exempt lotteries that do not require a licence or registration.

The total value of the tickets to be put on sale per single lottery must be £20,000 or less, or the aggregate value of the tickets to be put on sale for all their lotteries in a calendar year must not exceed £250,000.

The society must apply to the local authority where the principal office is located. A copy of the Small Society Lotteries Application form can be downloaded here.

The application fee is £40. Cheques must be made payable to ‘Torfaen County Borough Council’ or ‘TCBC’.

There will be an annual fee of £20. This will be payable on or before the anniversary date of the grant of the registration.

A local authority can refuse a small society lottery registration application if:

  • An operating licence held by the applicant for registration has been revoked or an application for an operating licence made by the applicant for registration has been refused,  within the past five years.
  • The society in question cannot be deemed non-commercial.
  • A person who will or may be connected with the promotion of the lottery has been convicted of a relevant offence.
  • Information provided in or with the application for registration is found to be false or misleading.

Limits placed on small society lotteries

At least 20% of the lottery proceeds must be applied to the purposes of the society.

No single prize may be worth more than £25,000.

Rollovers between lotteries are only permitted where every lottery affected is also a small society lottery promoted by the same society, and the maximum single prize is £25,000.

Every ticket in the lottery must cost the same and the society must take payment for the ticket fee before entry into the draw is allowed.


It is required that a society sends a return to the local authority following each draw detailing:

  • the arrangements for the lottery – specifically the date on which the tickets were available for the sale or supply, the dates of any draw and the value of prizes, including any donated prizes and any rollover.
  • the total proceeds of the lottery
  • the amounts deducted by the promoters of the lottery in providing prizes, including prizes in accordance with any rollovers
  • the amounts deducted by the promoters of the lottery in respect of costs incurred in organising the lottery
  • the amount applied to the purpose for which the promoting society is conducted (this must be at least 20% of the proceeds)
  • whether any expenses incurred in connection with the lottery were not paid for by deduction from the proceeds and, if so, the amount of expenses and the sources from which they were paid.

The returns must be sent to the licensing authority no later than three months after the date of the lottery draw.

Each return must be signed by 2 members of the society who are authorised to do so.

A copy of the Small Society Lotteries Return Form can be downloaded here.

Lottery tickets

If lotteries involve the issuing of tickets, each ticket must state:

  • the name of the promoting society
  • the price of the ticket
  • the name and address if the member of the society who has responsibility for promoting the lottery
  • the date of the draw, or information which enables the date to be determined

Lottery tickets may only be sold by persons that are aged 16 or over to persons that are aged 16 or over.


Prizes awarded in small society lotteries can be either cash or non-monetary.  

Specific offences in relation to lotteries

The Act sets out a number of offences that apply to lotteries:

Specific offences in relation to lotteries
Section of the Act Offence
s.258 Promoting a non-exempt lottery without a licence
s.259 Facilitating a non-exempt lottery without a licence
s.260 Misusing the profits of a lottery
s.261 Misusing the profits of an exempt lottery
s.262 Purporting to operate a small society lottery when not registered, or failing to make the required, or making false or misleading, returns in respect of such lotteries
s.326 Without reasonable excuse, obstructing or failing to co-operate with an authorised person exercising his / her powers
s.342 Without reasonable excuse, giving false or misleading information to the Commission or a licensing authority

Exempt Lotteries

The types of lotteries that do not require a licence are:

  • Incidental non-commercial lotteries – commonly held at charity fund raising events
  • Private lotteries – which include:
    • private society lotteries – only members of the society and those on society premises can participate in the lottery
    • work lotteries – only people who work together on the same premises may participate
    • residents’ lotteries – only people who live at the same premises may participate
    • customer lotteries – only customers at the business premises may participate

Prize Competitions and Free Draws

In prize competitions, success is in part, dependant on skill, judgment or knowledge of the person taking part and is not reliant on chance.

A lottery requires a participant to pay to take part.  Further information can be found here.

If you have any further questions or queries, or if you are unsure if you require a small society lottery registration, please contact the licensing team on 01633 647286.

Office Opening Hours

The opening hours for personal callers to the office at New Inn for the licensing team are Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 12:00 midday. Where this causes difficulties, in exceptional circumstances, an appointment can be made to visit outside of these hours. Please contact the office to arrange this. We are available on the telephone (01633 647286) between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm.

Last Modified: 22/02/2022
For more information contact:

Licensing Team

Tel: 01633 647286


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