Charity raffles in pubs and clubs 'may be illegal'

Solicitor calls for clarification of the law

A law firm is calling for a change in the law to clarify the status of charity raffles in UK pubs and clubs.

Julia Wylie, founder of JW Law, said many such raffles were currently illegal and guidance from the Gambling Commission, which regulates raffles and lotteries, was inadequate.

She said the fact there was no proper guidance to cover these events could put charities in an awkward position. "It could stop them from being able to actively encourage the pub or business carrying out the raffle," she said.

Because these raffles were not regulated, she said, there was no way of ensuring at least some of the proceeds went to the charity being supported.

The Gambling Act states that any lottery, including raffles, must operate under a licence, which can only be obtained by local authorities and non-commercial societies, unless it is one of three types of exempt lottery.

A business, such as a pub, can run a 'customer lottery' - a type of exempt lottery - but there are requirements, such as that all ticket proceeds must be used either for prizes or to cover expenses.

There is no class of exempt lottery to cover raffles run by a business where the profits would be donated to a charity. The only way a business could hold a raffle in aid of charity would be at an event where all proceeds went to the charity.

A Gambling Commission spokesman said he was unable to confirm whether charity pub raffles were legal.

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