How to Organize a Legal Raffle in British Columbia

Similar to other Canadian regions, British Columbia has its own laws. Operating without a license is prohibited by the law. Currently, only charitable and religious organizations can obtain a license from the corresponding office. Regardless, the goal of the raffle must be to raise funds to be used either by a local community or by a 3rd party working towards improving the local community.

A nonprofit or religious organization must first apply for the correct corresponding license before it can run a legal raffle and print numbered raffle tickets.

Reading and understanding the standard licensing procedure and guidelines is a must before applying for a license. Missing documents could lead to further delays or even a negative response. Luckily, the GPEB (Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch) of British Columbia has a wide range of services that are available for organizations looking to obtain a raffle license. Application forms may be submitted on the online platform supplied by the GPEB or sent by post. Emails and faxes are not permitted.

There are several factors that will guide the organization towards the correct license, including price of tickets, gross revenue, expected ticket proceeds, and type of organization requesting the license:

Class A License

Every raffle that has an expected revenue that exceeds $20,000 will fall under this category. In these cases, the raffle event organizer and the person holding the finances must be two different people. Moreover, the proceeds cannot be held in the company’s account. A new, separate account must be created for all financial deposits and withdrawals related to the raffle proceeds. The company that organizes the raffle must apply for a license at least 10 weeks in advance of the actual raffle date.

Class B License

Raffles with an expected revenue of less than $20,000 will fall under this category. Once the receipt of a completed application is received, it may take an additional 3 days for the registry to process the data and release the new license. However, there are cases where there is insufficient information provided. Such cases may take a longer period of time to be approved for a license.

Class C License

Community fairs and exhibitions that hold raffles will have to receive this license before being able to hold any public events. For a fair or exhibition even to be considered eligible for a raffle license, the duration of the event must be at least 3 days or longer. Moreover, the event must be open to the public, without restrictions.

Class D License

Small raffles with an expected revenue that doesn’t pass the $5,000 threshold will fall under this category. The funds from these small raffles must be used to help the community, either on a local level or through a third party. The proceeds from the raffle cannot be used outside of British Columbia.

How to Correctly Print Numbered Raffle Tickets

In order to conform to all regulations, you can choose to print numbered raffle tickets or create and distribute them on a digital platform.
If you decide to print numbered raffle tickets, there are several rules that have been published and updated in January 2016. Each ticket must consist of two independent, detachable parts:

Part 1, which is retained by the raffle participant:

  • Name and address of the license holder accompanied by a telephone number
  • License number for the gaming event, written as “BC Gaming Event License #_____”
  • Sequential number of the ticket and total number of tickets that were printed
  • Ticket price
  • Location and date of the raffle draw(s)
  • The words "Winners consent to the release of their names by the licensee."

Part 2, which is retained by the raffle organizer:

  • Designated area that contains details regarding the full name of the ticket purchaser, as well as telephone number and address
  • License number for the gaming event, written as “BC Gaming Event License #_____”
  • Sequential number of the ticket
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