In Ontario, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is responsible for regulating and overseeing licensed lottery events, such as bingo, raffles and the sale of break open tickets conducted by charitable and religious organizations to raise funds to support charitable purposes.
Below you will find useful information regarding lottery licences, including the types or organizations eligible for a lottery licence, what events are within provincial jurisdiction and which are municipally regulated, and how the licensing process works.
What is a Lottery?
A lottery scheme may be defined as any scheme which has a prize, a chance to win the prize, and a consideration or fee. Promotional draws in stores where there is no purchase necessary to fill out a ballot are not lotteries.
Administration of Lotteries
Lotteries are administered through two levels of government:
- Province of Ontario
- The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO), which reports to the Ministry of the Attorney General, is responsible for administering the lottery licensing program in the province of Ontario, and municipalities are partners with the AGCO.
All authority to licence gaming activity flows from the provisions in the Criminal Code (Canada).
The Registrar of the AGCO has been delegated authority so that it can licence all types of approval lottery events, while a Municipal Council may approve and licence certain lottery events.
Municipal Councils have the authority to issue licences for most lottery events conducted in their communities, including:
- Bingo events with prize boards of up to $5,500
- Raffles with prizes of up to $50,000
- Break Open Ticket events that are not conducted in conjunction with another licenced gaming event, and where the tickets are sold within the municipality
- 50/50 draws
- Bazaar gaming events
- Media Bingo
Since raising funds through gaming contains a certain element of risk on the part of the charitable organization, lotteries should be viewed as a supplement or alternative to the organization's other fundraising ventures.
Obtaining a Lottery Licence
Licences can only be issued to charitable or non-profit charitable organizations as defined by the AGCO.
In order to qualify for a lottery licence, an "eligible" organization must demonstrate that it exists to provide services in one of these charitable classifications:
- The relief of poverty;
- The advancement of education;
- The advancement of religion;
- Other charitable purposes beneficial to the community, not falling under a), b), or c).
Proceeds from lotteries must be used for charitable or religious objects or purpose in the province of Ontario.
Are you Eligible for Charitable Gaming Licences?
The eligibility of your organization will be determined by the licensing office you are applying to. Charitable registration with Revenue Canada or incorporation as a non-profit organization does NOT guarantee eligibility for licences. Your organization may be eligible if it:
- Has a purpose to provide charitable services to Ontario residents to:
- Relieve poverty or advance religion or advance education or benefit the community
- Has carried out activities consistent with its charitable purpose for at least 1 year.
- Is located in Ontario.
- Is non-profit.
Organizations that only promote the private interests of their members do NOT qualify for gaming event licences. This may include, but is NOT limited to:
- adult recreation or sports;
- individual sport teams;
- unions or employee groups;
- social clubs;
- professional associations;
- political, government, lobbying or advocacy groups.