Legal Q&A: Christmas events and gaming in pubs

By Poppleson Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Festive hampers: proceeds from raffles must be spent on prizes
Festive hampers: proceeds from raffles must be spent on prizes

Related tags Pub Gambling Lottery

This week's Q&A is about holding special events for Christmas and the rules around customers gaming in the pub.

Events for Christmas

Q. I have recently taken over as manager at a country pub and I am busy organising events for Christmas. The locals have informed me that, in previous years, the pub has run a raffle the weekend before Christmas with festive hampers as the prizes. They are asking me if it will be run again this year because they are keen to take part. I don’t want to let my regulars down. Am I able to hold
a raffle at my pub?

A. Raffles are a regulated activity under gambling law and are classed as a lottery.

This is because a customer is required to pay to take part and the prize is allocated to the winning ticket. You would be able to operate a raffle at your pub by way of a customer lottery. This type of
lottery is exempt from the requirement for any gambling licences or permits so long as you comply with the rules below, some of which seem quite bureaucratic but need to be complied with to avoid any issues:

The pub cannot generate any profits from the raffle – so be aware therefore that a customer lottery is not suitable for charity fundraising.

All proceeds from the tickets sales must be spent on the prizes less deductions for reasonable expenses such as the cost of buying a book of raffle tickets.

The price paid for each ticket must be the same and your customers have to pay for the tickets before you issue them.

Each ticket has to state the name and address of the premises, the price of the ticket, confirmation that the tickets are only available to customers and the fact that the ticket is non-transferable.

Children under the age of 16 cannot take part in the raffle.

The maximum value per prize must not exceed £50 and this can include cash and/or goods.

Tickets can only be sold to customers while they are on the premises and must be sold by or on behalf of the management of the pub and not by an external promoter.

You are only permitted to advertise the raffle on the premises. This can be by way of posters outside but you cannot distribute any promotional material such as flyers for example outside of your pub.

There cannot be any rollover of the prizes and there must be a seven-day gap between draws.

Exempt gaming pubs

Q. I have a large group of customers who come and play bingo in my pub on a Sunday afternoon. I have taken a look at the Gambling Commission guidance on exempt gaming in pubs but I am not clear on the maximum stakes and prizes allowed for bingo.

A. Players can stake a maximum of £5 per game. So, if for example, a card costs £1, the player cannot purchase more than five cards.

The maximum aggregate in stakes or prizes in any seven-day period is £2,000. If the £2,000 limit is breached, the Gambling Commission must be notified as soon as possible.

Related topics Licensing law

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