The UK Gambling Commission’s (The UKGC) role is to “regulate most types of gambling in Great Britain, including The National Lottery in the UK”. Many regard gambling as sportsbook, poker, slots and bingo. However their remit does go further and can include looking at pay to enter prize draws which may fall foul of The Gambling Act 2005 and therefore fall into the lottery category. In general most “raffle sites” or those that offer houses as prizes keep out of trouble from by including a no purchase necessary postal entry route. Whether these free entries are checked/monitored for inclusion in a draw is another story.
What Are Prize Draws
In recent weeks The UKGC have made two announcements regarding raffles and prize draws. The first came at the end of January and was on the subject of win a house competitions. The article simply outlines The UKGC’s position with respect to these kind of prize draws. First off The UKGC isn’t seeking to regulate prize draws but it does make sure that operators aren’t running lotteries. They go on to explain that as prize draws/house raffles don’t have the “same oversight as regulated providers of gambling products” that they “may not offer the same level of consumer protection against gambling-related harm”. They conclude with the line that they “will continue to monitor such competitions and will take action”.
According to UKGC: “Lotteries are a form of gambling. Raffles, tombolas and sweepstakes are all classed as lotteries. Lotteries can only be run either to raise money for good causes or for fun. They cannot be run for private or commercial gain”. The key factor of a lottery/raffle is that “you have to pay to enter”. However a free prize draw is defined as something that “can be run for commercial or private gain and can be used when promoting a product or raffling a high value item such as a car”. Prize draws – such as those that offer a house as a prize – can cost to enter as long as “people can choose to take part without paying”. And that’s how raffle sites and win a house competitions currently manage to avoid any interference from UKGC or having the same regulations as bingo, slots and sportsbook.
Whilst UKGC aren’t seemingly doing much about raffle sites they have been active in clamping down on raffles on Facebook. Now we saw these ran by many people, especially during lockdown. A prize would be posted and people invited to purchase a number. Whilst many treated these as a bit of fun they are in fact illegal. According to this report UKGC investigated “illegal lotteries, which offered a variety of cash prizes, children’s toys and clothing”. These investigations “saw two individuals identified for promoting illegal activity and removed from associated Facebook groups”. As part of the report one Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) said that “it’s important to acknowledge the harm illegal gambling can cause, especially when unregulated lotteries like these benefit from targeting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, especially those caught up in a cycle of addiction”.
Confused Dot Com
Whilst it’s good news that UKGC have looked at Facebook Raffles and taken action where appropriate we don’t understand why they’ve not acted upon raffle sites? We don’t want to see them closed down but we would like to see some regulations with respect to customer care. As we have mentioned on this blog before a person spending £100 a week playing slots or bingo may be picked up by affordability checks. Yet as far as we’re aware that’s not the case for raffles. If someone decides they want to self-exclude from bingo sites then through Gamstop they can do so. Some banks and banking apps also limit payments to gambling services. But these same regulations aren’t in place for raffle sites. Raffle sites also have no regulations with respect to who can set them up, who oversees the draws and ensures compliance and transparency. If these regulations were in place then a number of issues with respect to house competitions (poorly run draws, refund issues and lack of transparency on winners) could be dealt with by UKGC. We suspect however that implementing rules on raffle sites and win a house competitions may well open up a can of worms on regulating all pay to entry draws including those ran by ITV.