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Charitable Lottery Regulations

Charitable lottery regulations in Ontario.

March 17, 2023

Ontario, like every province or territory in Canada, has its own set of rules and regulations governing lottery for charity. We’ve broken down Ontario’s charitable lottery regulations for you and done our best to explain a few of the trickier parts. If you’re planning on running a charitable lottery in Ontario and are wondering if, for example, you need a nonprofit raffle licence or you want to get familiar with the 50/50 draw rules in Ontario, we’re going to do our best to help. Before we get into the details, we just want to say that, yes you can use Zeffy’s zero fee fundraising platform to sell tickets online in Ontario. We’ve written down the steps for setting up your online raffle, but you should keep reading before you get started.

What is a lottery?

Well, in classic Canadian style, the official definition varies ever so slightly from province to province. In Ontario, charitable and non-profit organizations’ lottery fundraising activities are regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)—and they define a lottery as:

… a gaming event or scheme that is conducted by a charitable or religious organization or a nonprofit group with charitable objects and purposes. The policies apply to raffles, break open ticket sales, charity bingo and one-time special occasion gaming events and bazaars run by these organizations.

In Ontario both Municipalities and the AGCO (the province of Ontario) are responsible for issuing charitable lottery licences to nonprofits.

Is your charity or nonprofit eligible for a charitable lottery licence?

In Ontario, eligible charity and nonprofit organizations may raise funds through provincially or municipally licensed lottery events, but how do you know if you’re eligible?

Well, to receive a lottery licence in Ontario, you must

Registration under the federal Income Tax Act as a charitable organization does not mean your nonprofit will automatically be eligible for a lottery licence. And, you guessed it, eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.

If your nonprofit or charity only promotes the private interests of your members, you might not qualify. (Sports teams, unions or employee groups, social clubs, professional associations, political, government, lobbying or advocacy groups.)

How to get an Ontario charitable lottery licence.

First, read the first three chapters, and the chapter(s) related to the lotteries that interest you, of the Lottery Licensing Policy Manual.

Next, apply for a lottery licence from the AGCO if you’re planing:

Smaller prized lotteries only require a municipal licence. (We found googling your municipality+charitable lottery licence was the best way to get the info you need.) But, if the raffle is electronic, you must be licensed through AGCO—regardless of the total value of the prizes.

Lottery Licence Fees.

Charitable gaming fees vary but are usually around 1-3% of the total value of the prizes and must be paid to the AGCO when submitting the application.

What you’ll need to include in your application.

You’ll find a list of the documents you need to include with your application on the AGCO’s Electronic Raffles page. There’s nothing too surprising in the list, except that you need to include a sample ticket. For information on what to include on your ticket, you can visit the ticket requirements page.

We’ve whipped up an example of a ticket with all the info in the right places.

Side A:
Side B:

Online ticket sales for nonprofits in Ontario.

Ontario has an Electronic Raffle Regulatory Framework that allows eligible nonprofit or charitable organizations to be licensed to conduct and manage online raffles in Ontario.

Electronic (online) raffles involve the use of computers for the sale of tickets, the selection of winners and the distribution of prizes in a licensed charity raffle.

There’s a lot more useful info on the electronic raffles page and it’s surprisingly clear.

Things to keep in mind when applying for a charity lottery in Ontario:

Some helpful links for a charity lottery in Ontario.

Here’s a recap of all the documents mentioned in this article:

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)

The online application form(s) (Scroll down a bit.)

Lottery Licensing Policy Manual

Ontario Raffle Licence Terms and Conditions

The tickets requirement page

Online raffles AKA electronic raffles page

Zeffy’s online raffle how-to guide

If you need them: charitable lottery licence for Canada’s provinces and territories.

Charitable Lottery Regulations in Alberta

Charitable Lottery Regulations in British Columbia

Charitable Lottery Regulations in Manitoba

Charitable Lottery Regulations in New Brunswick

Charitable Lottery Regulations in Newfoundland and Labrador

Charitable Lottery Regulations in Nova Scotia

Charitable Lottery Regulations in PEI

Charitable Lottery Regulations in Quebec

Charitable Lottery Regulations in Saskatchewan