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Types of lotteries and their regulations

Lotteries can only be run either to raise money for good causes or for fun. They cannot be run for private or commercial gain. 

Lotteries are a form of gambling. Raffles, tombolas and sweepstakes are all classed as lotteries.

Simple and complex lotteries

There are simple lotteries and complex lotteries, and both of these have different rules around how they are ran.

There are three factors in a simple lottery: 

  • you have to pay to enter  
  • there is at least one prize
  • prizes are awarded solely on chance. 

There are four factors in a complex lottery: 

  • you have to pay to enter 
  • there is at least one prize 
  • prizes are awarded by a series of processes, and the first process is based solely on chance. 

Who can take part?

Unlike other forms of gambling, people aged 16 are allowed to take part in some types of lottery.

The current age limit for The National Lottery is 16 and this includes any games assoicated with it. The government has consulted on whether it should be raised to 18 for some or all of The National Lottery games and products. You can read the consultation on GOV.UK (opens in new tab).

You check the minimum age requirement depending on the type of lottery you plan to run.

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Permitted lotteries