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Introduction to this document

Workplace sweepstake rules

Using our workplace sweepstake rules will ensure that, where your staff run small-scale work sweepstakes, e.g. on the Grand National or one of the sporting World Cups, they’re complying with the law.

Gambling Act 2005

A typical workplace sweepstake is a scheme in which employees pay to randomly select a team, player or horse in a sports tournament or horse race sweepstake. The person who selects the winning team, player or horse normally wins all the money, or sometimes the prize money is divided up between, say, those who came first, second and third. This type of scheme qualifies as a private work lottery under the Gambling Act 2005. Whilst you or the organisers don’t need a licence to run a private work lottery, the Act does set out some general rules about how these lotteries must operate. Our Workplace Sweepstake Rules will hopefully ensure your employee organisers comply with those rules. In simple terms, a lottery is a kind of gambling that has three essential elements:

  • payment is required to participate
  • one or more prizes are awarded
  • the prizes are allocated by a process which relies wholly on chance.

The statutory rules

Under the rules on work lotteries, they can only be promoted by someone who works on the premises and tickets can only be sold to other people who work together on the same single set of premises - so you can’t have one sweepstake operating between different branch offices or multiple worksites. The lottery must not be run for profit and all the proceeds, i.e. the total amount paid for tickets, must be used for prizes or reasonable expenses incurred in organising the sweepstake. Work lotteries must also comply with the conditions relating to advertising which state that no ad may be displayed or distributed except at the work premises, nor may it be sent to any other premises. Finally, the price paid for each ticket must be the same, must be paid over to the organisers in advance and the arrangements must not include a rollover of prizes from one lottery to the next.

Workplace sweepstake rules

We’ve limited the application of our rules to major public sporting events only. You don’t have to do this but you do need to ensure that your staff don’t try to run a sweepstake on something that could constitute bullying, harassment or discrimination. Our rules then essentially cover all the issues raised above. We’ve excluded the possibility of the organisers taking some of the proceeds as reasonable expenses because this could easily lead to arguments and instead provided that all proceeds must be distributed as prize money. We’ve also provided for the organisers to notify the participants in advance exactly how the prize money pot will be divided up. Finally, and this isn’t part of the legislation but is there to protect you, we’ve provided that sweepstakes must not encroach on working time.