Department for Communities consultation on a code of practice for gambling operators: response from the Fundraising Regulator

In February 2022, the Fundraising Regulator responded to a consultation hosted by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland on the introduction of a code of practice for gambling operators who hold a licence, permit or certificate under the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. Our response is in the form of a letter to the Social Policy Unit.

The department proposed this code under a power proposed under clause 15 of the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill introduced for consideration in the Northern Ireland Assembly in September 2021. 

Our interest

Many charities and charitable causes use lotteries and other gambling-based fundraising (including raffles, tombolas, sweepstakes and some other activities) to raise funds to support the delivery of their charitable aims. 

Across the UK, we regularly receive questions from both fundraisers and members of the public about gambling-based fundraising activity. In 2019/20, lotteries were the third most asked about method of fundraising for our enquiries service. In Northern Ireland, most questions we receive come from those seeking clarity on what they should do in relation to society lotteries, and recent changes to legislation on online lotteries.

The Gambling Commission is responsible for making sure all gambling activity meets the requirements of the Gambling Act 2005 in Great Britain. The Fundraising Regulator’s commitment to working towards best practice standards in the area of gambling-based activity is set out clearly in our joint Memorandum of Understanding with the Gambling Commission.

Our response

Having reviewed the draft Gambling Codes of Practice, we have noted the content, objectives, and the intended focus on public confidence. Whilst we recognise the gambling codes in the main will be used by gaming industry operators, we do think that including ‘society lotteries’ will mean that charities and third sector organisations will be impacted by these gambling codes. 

Whilst we welcome the consideration of and specific reference to ‘society lotteries’, there may be a need to clarify exactly what this means for charities and third sector bodies in Northern Ireland. On that basis, we ask that further clarity is considered and specific details added to the gambling codes. Specifically, we would suggest that references or cross-references could be added to other sources of information, other codes and guidance material in these proposed gambling codes.

For example, in the Gambling Codes of Practice ‘general application’ section, it may be important to add hyperlinks and explanatory text to reference:

Also, where ‘society lotteries’ are specifically referred to in the draft gambling code sections on:

  • gambling securities and credit
  • protection of children and young people
  • marketing; and
  • customer care and problem gambling

it would be important to hyperlink to additional guidance – again from the Department for Communities and the Code of Fundraising Practice – as appropriate.

The Code of Fundraising Practice sets out the responsibilities that apply to all charitable fundraising in the UK. There are several areas that cover fundraising standards relevant to the Department’s current consultation:

Where appropriate, our code refers to the additional legal and regulatory requirements expected by relevant bodies, including the Committee of Advertising Practice, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, and the Gambling Commission.