Work sweepstake tips! All you need to know

With the Grand National taking place this weekend and the World Cup in Rio just around the corner, employees may be thinking about starting a workplace sweepstake.

I myself have taken part in many a sweepstake, I even won once back in 1998 when France won the world cup (I’m hoping for better luck at the weekend). Without wanting to sound like the fun police there are a few things to think about when running a workplace sweepstake?

Sweepstakes in the workplace are popular and thought to be a bit of fun. A typical workplace sweepstake is a scheme where the participating employees pay a small amount of money (usually one to two pounds) to randomly select a team in a sports tournament or a horse in a race. The person who selects the winner either wins all the cash or it’s divided up between those who come first, second or third.

The Gambling Commission definition of a lottery (in simple terms) is as a kind of gambling that has three essential elements:

  • payment is required to participate
  • one or more prizes are awarded
  • those prizes are awarded by chance

This is set out more formally in the Act which defines two types of lottery, a simple lottery and a complex lottery.

An arrangement is a simple lottery if:

  • people are required to pay to participate in the arrangement
  • in the course of the arrangement one or more prizes are allocated to one or more people in a class
  • the prizes are allocated by a process which relies wholly on chance

However did you know this type of scheme qualifies as a “work” lottery under the Gambling Act 2005, you do not need a licence to run this type of lottery but the Gambling Act 2005 does set out some rules in organising such a sweepstake.

Work lotteries do not require a licence as long as only people who work together on the same premises may participate. Work lotteries can only be promoted by someone who works on the premises and tickets can only be sold to other people who work on the same single site.

The lottery must not run for profit and all the proceeds must be used for prizes or reasonable expenses incurred in organising the lottery. An arrangement such as a Grand National sweepstake held in a practice is an example of a work lottery.

Please note the above guidance is of a general nature. It is important that practices ensure policy guidelines and contractual obligations are followed.

In addition to the above FPM members can obtain further information via the FPM website. Alternatively members can also email specific questions about employment issues to advice@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk where your question will be treated in confidence and will normally be answered (by email) within 2 working days of submission.

Information from ACAS, Personnel Today and the HSE’s website has been used within this article.


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