NICVA's response to the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill

29 Oct 2021 Denise Copeland    Last updated: 26 Nov 2021

Further to the introduction of this Bill to the Assembly in September, the Committee for Communities has launched its ‘call for evidence’ and seeks your views. The closing date has been extended to 26 November 2021. 

The main purpose of this Bill is to amend the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (NI) Order 1985 and deal with a number of key issues of concern around gambling. 

The Bill includes provision for the removal of the £1 cap on the price of a Societies’ lottery ticket which we warmly welcome.  It also includes provision for various aspects of gambling such as Sunday opening of bookmakers and bingo clubs; offences allowing under 18s to play gaming machines; prize competitions; cheating; gambling contracts; industry levy; and code of practice.   The Bill and explanatory information can be viewed at the following link  Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill. 

NICVA is only providing comments on the relevant policy areas which affect fundraising in the voluntary and community sector, namely societies’ lotteries.  We acknowledge that other charities which have experience of the fallout from problem gambling will be best placed to comment on the other policy issues such as gaming machines and opening hours of bookmakers. 

Call for evidence 

The Assembly’s Committee for Communities wants to hear your views on this Bill. NICVA would also urge all Societies and their supporters to use this opportunity to submit your own response. Please note that you do not need to answer all sections of the questionnaire, for example,  if you only want to welcome the removal of the £1 cap on the price of a lottery ticket then just answer Question 19.   

Please click on the following link to access the Call for Evidence online questionnaire which also includes access to a pdf of all consultation questions. 

NICVA response to the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill 

We have outlined our response below exactly as it would appear in the sections of the online questionnaire.  Our response is based on our ongoing work in fundraising and governance advice and also from work on previous gambling consultations held by the Department for Communities.

Q6. Do you think that the Bill will meet its overall policy objectives…?

Yes  X              No              Other

Please explain:  In respect of the amendment to the rules for societies’ lotteries, it does. NICVA does not envisage any objections to reforming societies lotteries as this is quite often seen as fundraising as opposed to gambling.  Indeed at the roundtable discussion that was held as part of the Department for Communities consultation on the regulation of gambling in January 2020, most participants agreed that they didn’t associate buying a raffle ticket as gambling but rather seen it as supporting a good cause. 

Q7. Do you foresee any unintended consequences of any of the policy objectives of the Bill?

Yes                No              Other X

Please explain:  With respect to Societies’ lotteries, we would be concerned that the non- inclusion of further amendments to rules for societies lotteries may not happen by secondary legislation as anticipated. 

There are no provisions in the Bill to update the rules for other types of lotteries, namely ‘Private Lotteries’ and ‘Small Lotteries at exempt entertainments’.  It would be a missed opportunity not to update the rules for these either by secondary legislation or within this Bill. 

Issues with Private lotteries 

The rules on private lotteries does not permit ticket sales of more than £1,000 and tickets must be sold on the premises. 

The ticket sales cap of £1,000 could be increased to £10,000 as this can be a useful form of fundraising by organisations who have their own premises or indeed workforces who want to fundraise within their workplace for a good cause. 

As a consequence of the covid pandemic and the resultant working from home for many, the requirement that private lottery tickets must be sold on the premises has  meant that it would be difficult to run a private lottery as the requirement is that tickets must be sold on the premises.  Private lotteries should be permitted to sell their tickets by electronic means to those who would normally frequent their premises, whether it be employees, members or visitors to their premises. 

Issues with Small lotteries at exempt entertainments

The rules for small lotteries at exempt entertainments are only permitted to be sold ‘on the premises on which the entertainment takes place and during the progress of the entertainment’.  The covid pandemic has seen charities and other societies having to move these exempt entertainments online in order to keep people safe while at the same time raising vital funds. 

If we take the table quiz as an example, this can easily be held online but the wording of the legislation would appear to prohibit the sale of raffle tickets at this exempt entertainment as it is being held online and not in premises.  We recommend therefore that the words ‘on the premises’ is removed from Section 133(2)(b) of the 1985 Order to allow for exempt entertainments to happen online.   

We would also question why raffle tickets are not permitted to be sold prior to the event and would ask that this prohibition be removed also as, in practice, many organisations do sell the raffle tickets prior to the event without knowing that they shouldn’t.  

It is also  a requirement for the organisation to notify the police 7 days in advance that a small lottery is happening at an exempt entertainment.  NICVA would question if this is still necessary to be included given that many raffles that take place are unlikely to be notified to the police.  

Q18 - Clause 8: "Arrangements not requiring persons to pay to participate".

This clause amends Article 131 of the 1985 Order and introduces a new Schedule 15A to the Order with the result that it removes free to enter prize competition arrangements from the definition of a lottery.  Do you agree with the removal of free to enter prize competition arrangements from the definition of a lottery?

Yes              No      Other

Please explain: It would seem logical to remove this from the definition of a lottery.    

Q19 - Clause 9: "Rules for societies’ lotteries".

This clause amends Article 137 of the 1985 Order to remove the £1 ticket price for society lotteries – do you agree with this removal?

Yes X          No       Other

Please explain:  The current rules for societies’ lotteries are completely outdated and limiting the fundraising capacity of many Societies which includes charities, sports clubs and other voluntary led organisations. NICVA warmly welcomes the provision to remove the £1 ticket price of a society lottery ticket.  

By way of example to demonstrate how restrictive and cumbersome the current regulations are:  if a Society currently wants to run a draw/raffle with a substantial prize, for example to win a car worth £25,000, it is obliged by current legislation to sell the raffle tickets for £1 each - it is not permitted to sell the tickets at £5 or £10.   So, in order to raise the maximum amount of money permitted, the Society would have to sell 80,000 tickets at £1 each. 

A Society should be permitted to set its own ticket price as it is better placed to know what price would be acceptable to charge. 

Also, Societies in Northern Ireland are at a disadvantage in comparison to their counterparts in GB in terms of the restrictions that are placed on them with regard to the caps on the price of a ticket, income and prizes.  

Provision to increase the caps on ticket sales and prizes have not been included in this Bill, that is, the £80,000 cap on total value of ticket sales in each lottery has not been revised, neither has the £25,000 cap on the maximum value of a prize. 

NICVA understands that the Minister would be considering amending these caps by secondary legislation (as opposed to inclusion in primary legislation) as she has the power to do so under Article 137(21) of the existing Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (NI) Order 1985. 

While we appreciate that the Minister has already used her powers to permit Societies to sell their lottery tickets online from 7 September 2021 there has been no date set for further regulations to increase the caps on ticket sales and prizes that we are aware of. Secondary legislation should be implemented to change these caps before April 2022 otherwise a future Minister may not see the need for this to happen. 

Q20 -  Clause 9 will also amend Article 137 of the 1985 Order to alter the limit on the amount which may be appropriated for the expenses of a society lottery to 20% of the whole proceeds.   Do you feel that this is an appropriate limit?

Yes  X  No      Other

Please explain: This would appear appropriate.

Q21 - Clause 10: "Qualifications by age, residence or corporate status for licences, certificates and permits".

This Clause amends Articles 7, 61, 84 and 141 respectively of the 1985 Order to reduce the lower age limit from 21 to 18 years of age and remove the residency restrictions for grant of a bookmaker’s licence, bingo club licence, a gaming machine certificate and permit and a lottery certificate.   Do you feel that it is appropriate to lower the age limit from 21 years to 18 years of age in any or all of these categories?

Yes X       No     Other    

Please explain: 18 years of age seems to be reasonable. 

Q22 - Clause 10: Do you feel that it is appropriate to remove the residency restrictions?

Yes    No      Other    X        

Please explain: Would this mean that lottery consultants in GB could then promote GB society lotteries in NI?  If so, this provision should only be included if Societies in NI are able to generate the same income from a societies lottery and have the same prizes as Societies are permitted in GB.   

Q25  -   Clause 11: "Prize competitions not requiring persons to pay to participate".

This Clause introduces a new paragraph to Article 168 which specifies that a prize competition arrangement is not prohibited by Article 168 unless persons are required to pay to participate in the arrangement and refers to new Schedule 15A (Lotteries and Competitions: Requirements to Pay in Order to Participate) of the 1985 Order (introduced under Clause 8), as setting out what does and does not constitute a requirement to pay to participate in such an arrangement.

Do you feel it is appropriate for there not to be a requirement to pay to participate?

Yes      No     Other X

Please explain:  While free prize draws may be something which would be used by commercial organisations, they may also be of interest to some Societies in NI.

NICVA is unsure if Section 168 also applies to charities and fundraisers as 168 (1) refers to conducting prize competitions through ‘any newspaper, or in connection with any trade or business’.  

An example of how a charity or an independent fundraising appeal may use a free prize draw is to encourage donations or entry to an event and the donor’s or participant’s name would be entered into a free prize draw.

Also voluntary organisations have been running competitions in which one has to pay to enter.  A competition is where there is an element of skill involved, as opposed to societies’ lotteries which are purely by chance.  NICVA is unsure if it is Section 168(1)(b) of the 1985 Order that permits this or if there is another piece of legislation that covers it. 

NICVA would not want to see either of these examples hampered by the introduction of new legislation, as voluntary organisations are continually having to think of different ways in which to diversify their fundraising.'s picture
by Denise Copeland

Governance and Charity Advice Manager

[email protected]

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