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Pub charity raffles 'illegal' says law firm

Pub charity raffles 'illegal' says law firm

Dorset-based charity law specialists JW Law claim that charity raffles in pubs are illegal under current law. Yet this popular method of local fundraising takes place in pubs across the UK and has done so for years.

JW Law concluded that a raffle is simply another term for a lottery and the Gambling Act makes it an offence to promote a lottery unless it is either carried out under a Gambling Commission operating licence or is an ‘exempt lottery’. Yet only local authorities and ‘non-commercial societies’ can obtain an operating licence, not pubs. Nor can any of the four types of exempt lottery cover charity pub raffles.

When the company raised the issue with the Gambling Commission it was unable to identify which type of legal lottery pub raffles fall under.

In practice, the Gambling Commission does not take enforcement action against pubs and similar businesses running these kinds of raffles. But this is not satisfactory in JW Law’s view.

As a result, it has petitioned the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to propose a change in the law to allow and regulate these types of raffles. This would help ensure that pub charity raffles are as well regulated as charities’ own fundraising raffles, and that charities can actively encourage pubs and businesses to run raffles for them.

Julie Wylie, principal at JW Law, said: “Raffles run by businesses and clubs in aid of charity are a very common and important form of fundraising, especially in these difficult times. So, it’s important that these raffles are recognised and permitted by the law, with thought given to what simple safeguards can be put in place to ensure that an appropriate percentage of funds raised go to the charity which the raffle is held in aid of”.

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

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