Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn Lottery May Breach UK Gambling Laws

A Labour Party prize draw couAld be in breach of UK gambling laws according to September 13 BuzzFeed article.

Jeremy Corbyn.

A contest to meet Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (above) may be in breach of UK gambling guidelines. (Image: Wikimedia/Chatham House)

Citing a recent email to Labour Party members, BuzzFeed reporter Hannah Al-Othman has said a competition to meet leader Jeremy Corbyn appears to be illegal. Although the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has declined to comment on the case, the assertion is that the wording of the email goes against promotional guidelines.

It Looks Like a Labour Lottery Draw

Under UKGC rules, lotteries are a regulated form of gambling and, therefore, must operate under a strict code.

“Lotteries are illegal unless they fall into one of the categories specifically permitted by law,” reads the UKGC’s advice on small lotteries.

Reading through the guidance, the three types of lottery that don’t require a licence are:

Incidental lotteries – those held at events such as charity dinners and fetes.

Private lotteries – those held by societies, in a workplace or between people living in the same house.

Customer lotteries – those offered to customers inside a business premises.

In the email to Labour members, participates are asked to donate a sum of money in order to be entered into a prize draw to meet Mr. Corbyn.

“If you donate to Labour to help us fight crucial election campaigns, you’ll be entered into our draw to win tickets to join Jeremy in Liverpool,” reads the email.

Small Print May Lead to Big Problems

Because the promotion doesn’t fall into one of the above categories and participants are being encouraged to pay, this would be classed as a lottery requiring a licence. Reading further into the email, there is an option to enter the draw for free.

The option to play for free would exclude the competition from the UKGC’s licensing procedure. However, the sticking point for Al-Othman is that the free-play clause is buried in the email’s small print.

UKGC guidelines insist that any free-play options must be as prominent as the paid for options, something the writer believes hasn’t been followed in this case. Neither the regulator or the Labour Party has provided a comment to BuzzFeed, but any infringements could cost the latter up to £5,000.

While it’s unlikely the UKGC will take such severe action, the issue does highlight how strict gaming controls are in the UK.

Despite anti-gambling advocates calling for greater restrictions, the UKGC has become the gold standard for regulation over the last five years. Indeed, as well as taking on some of the largest operators in the country, it may well be set to impose its will on one of the UK’s largest political powers.

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