Charitable Lottery Licensing Overview
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is responsible for administering the charitable lottery licensing program in the province. Municipalities and the AGCO are responsible for issuing lottery licences to eligible charitable and religious organizations. Eligible charitable and religious organizations may raise funds through provincially or municipally licensed lottery events.
Lottery licensing refers to lottery schemes permitted by a licence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Typically, these may include bingos, raffles, break open tickets and social gaming events held by charitable or religious organizations. In Ontario, Order in Council 1413/08 authorizes the licensing framework for eligible charitable or religious organizations to hold lottery events and sets out the limits of municipal and provincial licensing. Licensed charitable or religious organizations must conduct and manage their events in accordance with licensing policies and the terms and conditions of the licences and fulfill all prescribed reporting requirements. Information on conducting and managing lottery events can be found in the AGCO’s Lottery Licensing Policy Manual, which provides an outline of the legal and policy framework and administrative procedures for lottery licensing purposes.
Lottery licences issued by the Municipalities
The Order in Council provides municipalities with licensing authority for:
- bingo events, with prize boards of up to $5,500;
- media bingo events with prizes up to $5,500;
- break open tickets for local organizations;
- raffle lotteries for total prizes of $50,000 and under; and
- bazaar lotteries which include: wheels of fortune with a maximum bet of $2.00, raffles not exceeding $500, and bingo events up to $500.
The municipality may attach terms and conditions to a licence, in addition to those established by the province, provided that they do not conflict with provincial Terms and Conditions or policies.
Applications for lottery events licensed by the AGCO must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the date of the event and 45 days for organizations applying for the first time. Please check out the AGCO website at www.agco.ca for more information.
If the application for a lottery licence is to be issued by the local municipality, application must be submitted at least 10 business days prior. Please contact the municipal office at 519-785-5060 or via email at email@example.com.
How is Eligibility Determined?
In the first instance, the licensing authority will review all relevant documentation to determine eligibility for lottery licences. These decisions are based on what is considered charitable in law, including the Criminal Code of Canada, previous court decisions, Order in Council 1413/08 as amended, and the policies issued by the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing.
The courts have determined that the term “charitable” refers to organizations which provide programs for:
- the relief of poverty;
- the advancement of education;
- the advancement of religion;
- other charitable purposes beneficial to the community.
Each application is unique. Determinations of eligibility will depend on the specific organization and its proposed use of proceeds.
The following pre-requisites are mandatory to be considered eligible for a lottery licence:
- Organizations must have been in existence for at least one (1) year before being considered eligible for lottery licences.
- The organization must have a place of business in Ontario, demonstrate that it is established to provide charitable services in Ontario and use proceeds for objects or purposes which benefit Ontario residents.
What is Needed to Determine Eligibility?
When an organization applies for a lottery licence, the following documents or information are required so that eligibility can be reviewed:
- Incorporation Papers (Letters Patent)
- Constitution and By-Laws
- Notification of Charitable Registration (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency) (if applicable)
- The most recent Registered Charity Information Return & Public Information Return, as submitted to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (if applicable)
- Financial Statement for Previous Fiscal Year (audited, where applicable)
- Detailed outline of all programs/services provided in the previous year and specific costs incurred in delivery
- Detailed outline of all programs/service currently provided and specific costs incurred in delivery
- The current operating budget
- Current Listing of the Board of Directors
- Any other information that will assist in determining the charitable nature of the objects and purposes. This could include an annual report, correspondence relating to its charitable number for income-tax purposes, and confirmation that it meets the reporting requirements of the Charities Accounting Act
The proposed use of proceeds, which must be consistent with the primary objects and purposes of the organization and of a charitable nature consistent with at least one of the four classifications of charitable purposes.
Still unsure of what whether you’re eligible for a lottery license? Check out:
Break Open Lottery Licences
Description: A break open ticket is a device made of cardboard and which has perforated cover window tabs behind which are symbols revealed by tearing open the cover tab. The winning combination of symbols is specified on the back of the ticket. Break open tickets are also known as “Nevada tickets” or “pull tabs”.
Description: A raffle lottery is a scheme whereby tickets are sold for a chance to win a prize at a draw and includes 50/50 draws, elimination draws, meat draws and calendar draws.
Blanket Raffle Licence
A blanket raffle licence will allow eligible organizations to obtain one lottery licence to conduct and manage more than one type of raffle event within a fixed time period and within a capped prize amount.
- First time applicants should visit the Charitable Lottery Licensing Overview page for information on what’s necessary to determine eligibility
- Municipal approval letter (if applicable)
- Please refer to Raffle Application Requirements for Lottery Licences Issues by the Registrar, linked below, for complete details on additional documentation required
- Appropriate lottery licensing fee payable to the Minister of Finance.
Where the licensee wishes to extend ticket sales or hold the draw outside the municipality where the event will be administered, the licensee must notify each municipality in which it wishes to extend its operations. Such request shall be in writing and include a copy of the licence issued, as well as a copy of the original application submitted. Permission to extend ticket sales into municipalities other than the municipality where the event is administered will be considered for municipalities in the Province of Ontario only.
The licensee must conduct and manage the event in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of the licence.
Catch the Ace
Description: A Catch the Ace progressive raffle lottery is a multiple-draw game in which participants purchase tickets for a chance to win:
- A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of tickets from one draw, and
- The draw winner also gets a chance to win a progressive (cumulative) jackpot by selecting a card from a standard deck of 52 playing cards.