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Legal Tips on Lotteries, Competitions and Prize Draws

Running promotional campaigns involving lotteries, competitions or prize draws can be a powerful marketing tool, but it’s crucial to navigate the legal landscape to avoid pitfalls. In the United Kingdom (“UK”), these activities are regulated by the Gambling Act 2005, the Committee of Advertising Practice’s UK Code (“CAP Code”) and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (“CPRs”).

This blog post aims to shed light on the distinctions between lotteries, competitions and prize draws, and the relevant legal requirements.

Lotteries: A Game of Chance with Legal Strings Attached

Lotteries involve the distribution of prizes based on chance to participants who have made a monetary contribution. While most lotteries are illegal, lawful ones generally require a licence. To comply with the law, promoters need to ensure that the promotion is either a competition (which removes the chance element) or a prize draw (which removes the monetary contribution element).

Competitions: Adding Skill to the Game

Competitions must include a significant element of skills to comply with the Gambling Act 2005. If the competitions involve guessing the outcome of a race, competition or other event, it may fall foul of the rules of the Gambling Act 2005 on betting. Striking the right balance between chance and skill is crucial to remain within the legal boundaries.

Prize Draws: Navigating the Rules

The Gambling Act 2005 does not seek to regulate free prize draws, but rather it draws a distinction between free prize draws, competitions and lotteries and sets out what a free prize draw or competition needs for it not to be classed as a lottery. Under the Gambling Act 2005, there are two types of free prize draws. The first is where all entries are free and the second is where there is both a paid and free entry route. The Gambling Act 2005 defines “free” as any method of communication charged at the normal rate and specifically mentions the use of first or second-class postage. “Normal rate” means that there can be no additional payment over what it normally costs to use a particular method of communication.

If you choose to run a free prize draw with a paid entry route, you must ensure that:

• participants can choose to take part without paying;

• the free entry route is no more expensive or no less convenient than the paid route and charged at its normal rate;

• the choice is publicised so that it is likely to come to the attention of anyone intending to participate;

• the system for allocating prizes does not distinguish between either route; and

• the free entry route is displayed with as much prominence as the paid route.

The Role of Regulatory Guidelines: CAP Code

The CAP Code sets out detailed requirements for administering promotions. These cover issues such as safety and suitability of prizes, the need to take special care if promotions are addressed to children and the need to ensure that all marketing communications include all applicable significant conditions and information. The promoter must ensure that the terms of the promotion are clear and well publicised, ensuring fairness in all aspects of the promotion.

The Role of Regulatory Guidelines: CPRs

The CPRs enforces stringent standards to protect consumers from deceptive practices. Violating these regulations constitutes an offence and includes actions such as producing misleading product descriptions or advertising deceptive prices. The CPRs also address the creation of a false impression regarding a consumer winning a prize or equivalent benefit, whether immediately or upon fulfilling a specific action, when no such reward exists. Adhering to the CPRs is crucial to maintaining transparency and ensuring fair and ethical business practices.

Data Protection: Safeguarding Entrants’ Information

As personal data is collected from entrants, promoters must comply with data protection laws. This entails not only providing entrants with essential information about data collection but also ensuring lawful grounds for processing, particularly for marketing purposes. Positive and explicit consent is a prerequisite for any planned marketing with consent never being a condition of entry to the competition or prize. Promoters must also comply with rules around data minimisation, accuracy, storage, integrity and confidentiality.

Potential Consequences of Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with regulations can have severe consequence for promoters. This may include:

• Bad publicity, loss of reputation and brand damage.

• Referral to regulators, such as the Gambling Commission, Competition and Markets Authority, Information Commissioner’s Office, Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards. Such bodies can take action including issuing fines and initiating criminal prosecution (depending on the body).

• Legal action by consumers or competitors.

• Costly recall and reprinting of advertising material.

• Disappointed consumers and loss of consumer confidence in the promoter’s organisation and brand.

How Can We Help?

Aria Grace Law CIC can assist in ensuring compliance with gambling laws, regulatory codes and data protection requirements. Whether you’re structuring a competition, prize draw or lottery, our legal expertise can help mitigate risks, protect your brand and ensure a successful promotion.

Contact us today on to discuss how we can support your promotional endeavours while safeguarding your business from legal pitfalls.

Article by Puja Modha (Partner) and Sarah Davies (Paralegal) – 15 December 2023


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