Small society lottery guidance

A small society lottery must be registered with a licensing authority throughout the period during which the lottery is promoted. You will need to register your small society lottery with Cheltenham Borough Council if your principal office is situated in Cheltenham borough.

An application for a small society registration must be in the prescribed form, accompanied by the correct fee and the documents listed on the form.

We may ask a new applicant to provide copies of their terms and conditions, their constitution or a declaration to establish they are a non-commercial society. The Gambling Act 2005 sets out the grounds on which we can refuse an application.

As a licensing authority, we are required to record the details of a society on a register. Registrations run for an unlimited period unless the registration is cancelled.

Management and operation of a lottery

As the purpose of the lottery is to raise money for non-commercial causes, a minimum proportion of the money raised must go to the causes promoted by the lottery. The limits placed on small society lotteries are as follows:

  • a society must apply a minimum of 20 per cent of the gross proceeds of each lottery directly to the purposes of the society
  • no single prize must be worth more than £25,000
  • rollovers are permitted as long as the maximum single prize limit (£25,000) is not breached
  • every ticket in the lottery must be the same price and the cost of purchased tickets must be paid to the society before entry into the draw is allowed. There is no maximum limit on ticket prices.

Ticket information

All tickets in a society lottery registered with a local authority must state:

  • the name of the society on whose behalf the lottery is being promoted
  • the price of the ticket
  • the name and address of the member of the society responsible for the promotion of the lottery
  • the date of the draw

Tickets which are issued electronically must specify this information to the purchaser of the ticket and ensure that the message can be either retained or printed.

All small society lottery operators must keep a written record of any unsold and returned tickets for a period of one year from the date of the lottery draw.

Sale of tickets

Tickets can only be sold to people over the age of 16 years.

Tickets must not be sold to any person in a street. Tickets may be sold by a person in a kiosk or shop premises (having no space for the accommodation of customers), or from door to door. The Act defines a street as any bridge, road, lane, footway, subway, square, court, alley or passage (including passages through enclosed premises such as shopping malls) whether a thoroughfare or not.

Lottery returns

Every society registered with a local authority to run small society lotteries must submit a statement providing the following information, following each lottery held:

  • the date on which tickets were available for sale or supply and the date of the draw
  • the total proceeds of the lottery
  • the amounts deducted by promoters of the lottery in providing prizes, including rollovers
  • the amounts deducted by the promoters of the lottery in respect of costs incurred in organizing the lottery
  • the amount applied directly to the purpose for which the promoting society is conducted (at least 20 per cent of the gross 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

You must send your registered society’s statement to us within the three months beginning on the day on which the draw (or last draw) in the lottery took place. It must be signed by two members of the society appointed in writing for that purpose by the society’s governing body and accompanied by a copy of that appointment.

Social responsibility

Lotteries are a form of gambling and societies and local authorities have a duty to ensure that children and other vulnerable people are not exploited.

The minimum age for participation in a lottery is 16 years of age. It is an offence to invite or allow a child to enter a lottery other than certain classes of exempt lottery, such as incidental non-commercial lotteries, private lotteries, work lotteries and residents lotteries). Societies running lotteries must have written policies and procedures in place to help prevent and deal with cases of under-age play.

Lottery operators must take all reasonable steps to ensure that information about how to gamble responsibly and how to access information and help in respect of problem gambling is readily available.

You'll find further information about social responsibility requirements in the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice.

Compliance and enforcement

Small society lotteries are intended to raise funds for 'good causes'. The Act gives us a range of enforcement powers towards lottery operators that we register. Enforcement is based on a risk based approach and will be carried out in line with our enforcement policy.


Small society lottery fees
New registration £40
Annual fee £20

The annual fee is payable in the 2 months before the anniversary of registration.

Further information

Contact the licensing team

Visit the Gambling Commission website