Standing up for Society Lotteries – Our response to the Gambling Commission’s Consultation

Raffles and LotteriesGovernance and Compliance
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We have been working with members to respond to the Gambling Commission’s recent consultation which is proposing major changes to how charities can market society lotteries.

You can read our full response on why we think society lotteries should be exempt from these changes here.

What is the Gambling Commission proposing?

To give customers more choice in how they receive communications, and on what products, the Gambling Commission wants to introduce new requirements that will mean customers must provide explicit opt-in on both the kinds of products they want to hear about (bingos, casinos and of course society lotteries), and which channels they wish to hear about them from. This is one of many steps they are taking to safeguard consumers and reduce problem gambling.   

Society lotteries are one of the safest forms of gambling

Although reducing harm and safeguarding against problem gambling should be the Gambling Commission’s top priority, we feel that society lotteries should be exempt from these requirements as there is little evidence connecting them to this issue. Generally, society lotteries are considered low-risk products as they rarely incentivise donors to gamble in other ways and spending limits are much lower than commercial gambling products. It’s therefore unsurprising that the kind of person who typically takes part in a society lottery is someone who would otherwise want to support their chosen charity through regular giving, but opts for a lottery as there’s a chance to win a prize. 

On top of this, the evidence put forward by the Gambling Commission as to why they believe these proposals will reduce harm does not include society lotteries; instead it focuses on commercial gambling products. With this in mind, we don’t want to see society lotteries inadvertently caught up in a wider problem within the commercial gambling sector and would like to see the Gambling Commission conduct a thorough review into the marketing of society lotteries.  

These changes would put additional pressure on charity finances

Society lotteries are generally considered one of the most robust fundraising products during difficult economic times. As such, we have seen more and more members adopt them as a way to build up their base of long-term regular givers and reach younger audiences. Also, by being able to offer lotteries alongside other fundraising products, donors get more choice in how they want to support a charity and can pick what works best for their personal situation. So, at a time when every penny counts, lotteries are playing an important role in both recruiting and retaining donors and we don’t want to see this promising income stream curtailed.    

Equally, as charities do not always capture consent for specific products, these changes could lead to some charities having to overhaul their entire consent processes. We are concerned this would mean charities would have to divert money from the delivery of vital services at a time when charity finances are already stretched due to rising costs and demand for services.  

The proposals don’t line up with changing data legislations

In the background to this consultation, the Data Protection Bill is making its way through Parliament. The Bill takes a more flexible approach to direct marketing, and in some cases makes it easier to engage supporters by extending the soft opt-in to charities. As it stands, the Gambling Commission’s proposals would stop charities from being able to use this to market society lotteries, and therefore clash with the government's overall desire to make it easier for charities to connect with supporters.

Our proposals

We think there is a strong case to make that society lotteries should be exempt from these proposals. Our recommendations are:  

Charlotte Weatherley
Charlotte Weatherley
Policy Manager
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