Why Society Lotteries are not a big gambling risk for charities


Problem gambling can be seen as a risk for charity and society lotteries, but research shows there is little risk involved.

Is problem gambling a risk for society lotteries? Society lotteries including charity weekly lotteries, raffles and the National Lottery all fall under the remit of the gambling commission as gambling activity. The value of lottery has been rising over the years and is set to continue to rise into the future according to Mintel and the Gambling Commission.

Most of the UK top charities have a raffle or weekly lottery

The majority of large charities have one or both types of society lottery in their fundraising portfolio and this is growing continually. Sales have grown over the last year, and it’s predicted to continue. This is a growing marketplace, with many more charities launching lotteries or raffles over the last year, including GOSHC and WWF (hence not in the table below). Queries come in daily, and many more are currently looking to launch over the next year or two. Lotteries and raffles are commonplace and a proven way to add additional ways to raise funds for charities.

Is problem gambling a concern for prize-led fundraising?

Society Lotteries currently sit alongside activities such as casinos, bingo, amusement arcades and slot machines and betting – both online and offline. The role of the Gambling Commission is to keep these activities legal but also safe, to minimise problem gambling.

Even with these provisions in place there are some charities which have a real concern running raffles and lotteries. This is in case they are seen as detrimental to the charity, its brand and its reputation in the marketplace and with supporters. The reality is that problem gambling has not been a problem in the charity sector. We’ve shared below some recent research by independent bodies which show why problem gambling is not an issue in prize-led fundraising to help support those internal discussions….

Gambling motivations research

The Gambling Commission with 2CV looked into the motivations around why people gamble, and the core lottery motivators of ‘For the Money’, ‘Along for the Ride’, and ‘Just What I Do’ can be seen to be the lowest in encouraging problem gambling.

When asked, those who play a charity lottery specifically (not including the National Lottery), 55% classified it as ‘gambling to support good causes’. They are not doing it for the gambling element. It’s a chance to win, it’s fun and a way to do that whilst supporting a good cause.

Lotteries council research

Joe Saxton, founder of non-profit research consultancy nfpSynergy, has done extensive research for the Lotteries Council, to deeper dive into this area and in particular charity lotteries. His reports ‘Hitting the Jackpot’ and ‘Responsible Play’ together present the evidence and analysis around the extent to which charity lotteries are likely to be the cause of problem gambling or addictive behaviour. The results clearly outline how this is not the case: the chief causes of problem gambling, and in particular the buzz and risk of instant-wins, simply do not apply to charity lotteries and therefore they cannot be a major cause of problem gambling.

Overall, lotteries and prize-led fundraising are a fun way to support charities. They offer a valuable chance to engage with new supporters of a different make-up with a different motivation. They enable us to ask current supporters to help in a more fun and fresh way. Although still seen as gambling, the risk for the charity and for the supporters is very minimal and should not be seen as prohibitive or a risk to the charity if the requirements from the Gambling Commission are followed. Make sure your external lottery manager is up-to-date with compliance requirements and supports you in your regulatory compliance.

You can find out more about how prize-led fundraising can support your charity income generation in this on demand webinar


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