A sweepstake through the heart of workplace horseplay?
Millions of office workers taking part in Grand National sweepstakes this week could be at risk of breaking the law, says a solicitor at a major law firm. According to James Corlett of Kirwans, companies must ensure they meet certain criteria to be exempt from the UK Gambling Act.
‘Most staff will be allocated horses purely by chance,’ said Corlett, ‘as this is the only “fair” way of doing it. This is likely, however, to fall into the definition of a “lottery” under the Gambling Act. An arrangement is a lottery if i) there is at least one prize, ii) people have to pay to participate, and iii) the prizes are allocated by chance.’
Corlett added: ‘It is a criminal offence to promote a lottery unless the lottery is exempted. Promotion could be anything from advertising to selling tickets. Unless a business is a charity or local authority, it is unable to have a lottery licence.’
One way around the law, said Corlett, was to ensure that all proceeds were paid out in prizes, with any reasonable administration expenses deducted. But any sweepstakes that contained an element of charitable giving would automatically fall foul of the law.
‘Grand National sweepstakes may seem like a bit of harmless fun,’ said Corlett, ‘but the reality is that unless they are carefully organised, there is a distinct possibility that a business could find itself in hot water.’
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