Running a Fundraising Raffle in Northern Ireland: Everything You Need to Know

Hosting a legal raffle in Northern Ireland can be a tricky process. Raffles fall under the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements legislation, which dates back to 1985. Over the years, the law has suffered several amends, and is set to receive a new set of changes in 2017.

According to current legislation, a raffle is a type of lottery that involves the purchase of fixed-price tickets, without the need of a certain set of skills. At the end of the lottery, each participant is eligible to win the whole prize or a part of the prize pool, only relying on chance.

More information regarding raffle laws and regulations can be found on the official website of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action.

Currently, there are 3 types of raffles that are legal: small, private, and societies’ raffles. There are different rules and regulations for each of these categories:

Small Raffles

Based on the Northern Ireland legislation, small raffles are defined by a distinct set of rules. The most important aspect is that 100% of the proceedings that come from ticket sales cannot be devoted to private gains. Secondly, the raffle must take place during a larger event. Thirdly, for a raffle to fall under the “small raffle” category, the entirety of the ticket sales must be done during the previously mentioned event.
These events include, but are not limited to: dinners, dances, bazaars, jumble sales, fetes, athletic events, and so on.
The organizing party must follow these rules:
Keep records of all participants
Clearly state the purpose of the raffle and the destination of the ticket proceeds
Inform all potential participants of the purpose of the raffle
Announce the local police department at least 7 days before the event will take place

Private Raffles

A private raffle is somewhat different to a small raffle. If a small raffle must be a part of a larger event, a private raffle can be held on its own, as long as it is promoted in Northern Ireland, and the organizers are part of a commercial or residential society.

There is a ticket sales threshold in place for all private raffles, meaning that the value of the sold tickets cannot be higher than £1.000.

Finally, all the proceeds of the raffle, except printing and other expenses, must go towards the society itself, to prizes for a part of the participants, or both.

These raffles can be used by various societies that operate on the territory of Northern Ireland and can be a very useful source of funding.

Societies’ Raffles

Unlike the private lottery, where members of a society could run a raffle for the gain of the said society, these raffles can only be conducted for charitable purposes. In order to be able to hold a society's raffle, registration is required. The application forms are available at the district council offices. A registry fee (£35) must be paid when applying. Moreover, a copy of the application must also be sent to the local police department (as well as another £17.50 fee).

After registration, a society is free to hold an unlimited number of raffles every year, as long as the total value of the sold tickets doesn’t surpass the threshold of £1 million per year, or £80.000 per raffle.

Ticket sales must follow these rules:
Can’t be sold to people under the age of 16
Must be priced at £1 or less and cannot be offered for free for any reason
Can’t be sold in bookmaker offices
Must be sold in person, not by a machine
The prize pool cannot include a single prize that is valued at £25.000 or higher, or 10% of the proceeds acquired from ticket sales - whichever is the greater. Moreover, the society may only use up to 50% of the proceeds to provide the said prizes.

If you are looking for a way to create printable tickets for your raffle, try Raffle Ticket Creator.

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