Registration of small society lotteries

Small society lotteries are often referred to as raffles or draws and can be a good way to raise funds for charitable purposes.

If money is paid for the chance to win a prize where no skill, judgement or knowledge affects the outcome, this is known as a lottery. Societies which run small society lotteries must register with us (if the principal office of the society is in Aberdeenshire) throughout the period in which a lottery is promoted.

Who can apply

It is not permissible to establish a society whose sole purpose is to facilitate lotteries. The society must be set up for non-commercial purposes. A society is non-commercial if it is established and conducted:

  • for charitable purposes
  • for the purpose of enabling participation in, or supporting of, sport, athletics or a cultural activity
  • for any other non-commercial purpose other than that of private gain

Lottery size

A society wishing to register with us to promote lotteries needs to satisfy us that they want to run a small society lottery. A small society lottery:

  • doesn't have proceeds that exceed £20,000 for a single draw
  • doesn't have aggregated proceeds in excess of £250,000 in a calendar year

If your society's total income from lotteries is greater than £250,000 a year, you are classed as a large operator and you need to register with the Gambling Commission instead.

Lottery tickets

Lotteries may involve the issuing of physical or virtual tickets (such as email or text message) to participants. The purchase of a small society lottery ticket must receive a document which identifies:

  • the name of the promoting society
  • the price of the ticket (which must be the same for all tickets)
  • the name and address of the member of the society who is responsible at the society for promoting small lotteries, or the external lottery manager (if there is one)
  • either the date of the draw, or, enables the date to be determined

However, the requirement to provide this information can be satisfied if the participant can retain the message electronically or print it.

Lottery tickets may only be sold by persons over the age of 16 to persons over the age of 16.

Tickets should not be sold in a street, where street includes any bridge, road, lane, footway, subway, square, court or passage (including passages through enclosed premises such as shopping malls). Tickets may, however, be sold from a kiosk, in a shop or door-to-door.

Lottery prizes

Prizes awarded in small society lotteries can be either cash or non-monetary.


As the purpose of permitted lotteries is to raise money for non-commercial causes, the Gambling Act 2005 requires that a minimum proportion of the money raised by the lottery is channelled to the goals of the society that promoted the lottery. If a small society lottery doesn't comply with these limits it will be liable for prosecution.

The limits are as follows:

  • At least 20% of the lottery proceeds must be applied to the purposes of the society
  • No single prize may be worth more than £25,000
  • Rollovers between lotteries are only permitted where every lottery affected is also a small society lottery promoted by the same society, and the maximum single prize is £25,000
  • Every ticket in the lottery must cost the same and the society must take payment for the ticket fee before entry into the draw is allowed


The registered society must provide a return no later than three months after the date of each lottery draw.

Application fees

The registration fee is £40 and the annual retention fee is £20. We will issue reminders for payment of the annual fee, two months in advance of the date shown on the current Certificate of Registration.

How to apply for registration

Applications must be submitted at least 28 days in advance of the date on which it is proposed to commence selling tickets for the lottery.

You can apply for the registration online or in paper. 

Supporting information

You will need to provide supporting information to complete your application:

Apply online

If you would like to apply online, you will be able to upload supporting information while filling in the form.

Please note that you will have to sign in with myAberdeenshire to access the form. You will be able save it and resume later at any stage before submitting it. To access your saved applications login to myAberdeenshire and go to your submissions.

 Apply for a small society lottery registration

Apply in paper

To apply in paper, please complete the following forms and include supporting information to complete your application:

Please send your competed form by email to or by post to, please note physical mail is only checked once a week:

Aberdeenshire Council
Legal and People
Arduthie Road
AB39 2DQ

What happens after

Once granted, registrations run for an unlimited period, unless the registration is cancelled, for example for non-payment of annual fee. If we cancel the registration of a society we are required to notify the Gambling Commission.

Refusal of an application

We may refuse an application for any of the following reasons:

  • An operating licence held by the applicant for registration has been revoked or an application for an operating licence made by the applicant for registration has been refused, within the past five years
  • The society in question cannot be deemed non-commercial
  • A person who will or may be connected with the promotion of the lottery has
  • Information provided in or with the application for registration is found to be false or misleading

Revocation of the registered status

We may revoke the registration of a society if we think that they would have had to, or would be entitled to, refuse an application for registration if it were being made at that time.

Revocations can't take place unless the society has been given an opportunity to make representations at a hearing or via correspondence. In preparation for this, the licensing authority will inform the society of the reasons why it is minded to revoke the registration and provide them with the terms of the evidence on which it has reach that preliminary conclusion. Representations and objections will be dealt with in line with the Licensing Board’s normal procedure.


Where a registration is revoked or refused, we will notify the applicant or the society as soon as possible. The applicant or society may decide to appeal the decision.

There is a 21-day period in which appeal can be made the Sheriff Court. The Sheriff Court may choose to affirm the decision of the licensing authority, reverse the decision, or make any other order.

Pay annual licence retention fee

You can pay the annual retention fee online. You will need to provide details from the payment reminder letter:

  • Case reference number
  • Society registration number

You will also need to upload the promoter authorisation letter (PDF 94KB) completed and signed by two committee members.

Please note that you will have to sign in with myAberdeenshire to access the form. You will be able save it and resume later at any stage before submitting it. To access your saved applications login to myAberdeenshire and go to your submissions.

Pay annual retention fee