UK: Prize Competitions And Free Prize Draws – New Guidance

Last Updated: 16 November 2007
Article by Susan Barty, Susie Carr and Lucy Kilshaw

In July 2007 we provided an update on the Gambling Commission’s ("GC") consultation and guidance on the law relating to prize competitions and free prize draws in the light of the provisions in the Gambling Act 2005 (click here to view previous article).  Essentially, to avoid an illegal lottery, either there must be no payment by participants to enter or there must be a sufficient degree of skill required. In the GC’s guidance, it noted that two issues in particular needed further consideration:

  • whether web entry would always be classed as a free entry route, particularly where the need for an immediate response is emphasised or the scheme is run for only relatively short periods; and
  • guidance on the level of skill required for a ‘prize competition’.

To view the article in full, please see below:

Full Article

In July 2007 we provided an update on the Gambling Commission’s ("GC") consultation and guidance on the law relating to prize competitions and free prize draws in the light of the provisions in the Gambling Act 2005 (click here to view previous article).  Essentially, to avoid an illegal lottery, either there must be no payment by participants to enter or there must be a sufficient degree of skill required.  In the GC guidance, the GC noted that two issues in particular needed further consideration:

  • whether web entry would always be classed as a free entry route, particularly where the need for an immediate response is emphasised or the scheme is run for only relatively short periods; and
  • guidance on the level of skill required for a ‘prize competition’.

As a result, the GC has now provided further guidance in relation to free prize draws and prize competitions as follows.

Free Prize Draws

The GC has acknowledged that:

  • in certain circumstances, free web entry will be a satisfactory alternative to the paid route to allow a scheme to qualify as a free prize draw;
  • free web entry has clear attractions for most participants who use it due to it genuinely costing them nothing. This contrasts with the traditionally accepted postal route which costs the participants money to use; and
  • home web access may well meet the statutory test on its own in the future.

The GC has set out helpful guidelines which should assist promoters in concluding whether or not a web entry for a specific prize draw will qualify as a free entry method:

  1. Potential participants who do not have home web access need sufficient time to gain web access elsewhere.  The GC has specified that it considers three working days as a reasonable length of time to obtain such access.  This will effectively make TV prize draw shows that are only aired for a short period of time illegal lotteries, unless they offer an alternative free entry route e.g. a standard rate telephone call, or they alter their format to include an acceptable level of skill such that they fall within a prize competition.
  2. Participation by web access should be available at all times while the promotion is being actively promoted.  Therefore, a quiz on a television programme should permit web entries while the programme is being aired. Clearly, on the basis of point 1 above, this will only apply to prize draws when they are being promoted by a television programme which is aired over a three-day period or longer.
  3. The availability of free entry via web access should be made widely known.

The GC guidance is keen to point out that, where doubts remain whether the free web entry route will be acceptable or not, an accepted free entry route should also be used i.e. post.

To the extent that promoters have not already had to change the format of prize draws following the recent inquiries into fraudulent practices, this new guidance on web entry will significantly impact TV prize draws that are aired for short periods of time, where the first stage of the draw involves a random selection of entries to decide who can participate in the draw.  Promoters will not in this instance be able to use web entry as a free entry route in order to fall outside an illegal lottery.  Promoters will have to offer alternative, less attractive (to the promoter) free entry options, such as standard rate telephone calls.  Alternatively, promoters could change the structure of the draw to include a requisite level of skill at the first stage so that it falls into the category of a prize competition.

Prize Competitions

The test for a scheme to qualify as a prize competition under the 2005 Act is whether the skill, knowledge or judgment element can reasonably be expected to either a) prevent a significant proportion of people who wish to participate from doing so; or b) prevent a signification proportion of people who participate from receiving a prize.

It is accepted that the first of these limbs may be difficult for the promoter to establish.  The GC has attempted to set out some ground rules which could be taken as indicating that the skill, knowledge or judgement element was satisfactory.  If such is established, the GC has indicated that it would not pursue the matter further.

The guidance concentrates on competitions which use multiple answers.  It has stated that in these types of competitions, the GC will not generally take action where a) there are sufficient plausible alternative answers, b) the question is relevant to the context in which the competition is offered, c) the correct answer is not provided close to the question (e.g. this would capture the situation where the answer is made obvious in the text of an article above the question) and d) ‘joke’ answers are avoided.

The GC has stated that where other types of format are used, they would require an equivalent level of skill, knowledge or judgment.

The guidance also confirms the GC’s intention to adopt a collaborative approach to potentially wrongdoers, at least initially, by encouraging dialogue with promoters who will be invited to explain their actions and demonstrate that they have acted reasonably.  The GC hopes then to resolve differences of opinion without the need to prosecute.   

The full text of the guidance can be found here.

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 15/11/2007.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.