Workplace Lotteries Pose Potential Problems

That Eurovision lottery going on in the office may not be as much fun as you think!

Running a lottery in the office can be great fun, but office pools and lotteries are a form of gambling and, as such, are regulated by the Gambling Commission.

First, let’s clarify what constitutes a lottery. While there are different types of lotteries, such as randomly-drawn numbered tickets or even the randomly-drawn name of a race horse, they have three things in common.

  1. Each person must pay to participate.
  2. One or more prizes will be awarded at the end of the lottery.
  3. The winner is determined solely by chance.
    • Employees may not select a specific ticket, number, Eurovision contestant, football club or horse. The lottery winner must be completely random. Choosing a specific outcome is betting – not chance.

And, while most organisations can safely conduct a lottery at their premises there are a few rules to be followed.

  • Organisations with a gambling license (casinos) may not conduct workplace lotteries.
  • No advertisements can be displayed outside the premises.
  • Lottery advertisements can not be sent to any other place (such as other offices).
    • DLP would caution about sending emails to employees about the lottery IF those emails could be received or read outside the office where the lottery is taking place.
  • Tickets may only be sold by the lottery organiser.
  • Tickets are non-transferable.
  • All tickets must be the same price.
  • All prizes must be awarded at the end of the lottery (no proceeds can be rolled into the next lottery).
  • Lotteries may not be conducted on a vessel (boat, seaplanes, amphibious vehicle, hovercraft, etc.)
  • Reasonable expenses may be deducted from the proceeds (purchase of tickets, etc.).
  • The lottery can not create a profit.
  • All proceeds must be distributed to participants or gifted to a charity or ‘good cause’.
  • Lotteries can only be conducted by and between employees of the organisation at that location.
  • Lotteries can only be conducted at a single premises.
    • A single set of premises is defined as a single office space or can be multiple buildings of a single organisation at one address, such as a business with multiple buildings (warehouse, office, etc.) at the same place.
    • A single set of premises does not extend to an organisation with multiple offices or locations (such as DLP). In this case, each office may conduct an independent lottery at their specific location and only between employees at that location.

So, yes a Eurovision lottery can be great fun, but only if everyone plays by the rules. Violating Gambling Commission rules could be quite costly for employees and employer if the organisation authorised or conducted the lottery.

This post is a brief overview of some of the conditions to conduct a workplace lottery but should not be considered definitive for every situation. Should you choose to conduct a lottery be sure to carefully review the Gambling Commission requirements or contact DLP for a review of your plans. DLP experts and advisors are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to reach out anytime.

Information in this post was obtained from the Gambling Commission’s Organising Small Lotteries and Quick Guide to Running a Small Lottery.

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