"No Purchase Necessary" Route For Chance Based Competitions No Longer Required In Northern Ireland

Published date16 May 2022
Subject MatterAnti-trust/Competition Law, Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment, Antitrust, EU Competition , Gaming
Law FirmLewis Silkin
AuthorMr Geraint Lloyd-Taylor, Mary Traynor and Alex Meloy

As we posted recently, it's the moment you've been waiting for - the laws on chance-based competitions (where success does not depend on skill) in Northern Ireland (NI) have finally been broadly aligned with the rest of the UK.

See our recent post here.

On 26 April 2022, the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) Act 2022 was granted Royal Assent (2022 Act). The 2022 Act amends the old Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (SI 1985/1204). It forms the first part of an agenda to overhaul gambling regulation in NI, which has struggled to keep a pace with the rapid developments in the gambling sector, including the growth of online gaming. There are future plans to formulate more far-reaching legislation, which would, among other things, update the laws on online gaming in NI.

Amongst other issues the Act removes the current '1 price limit on the sale of societies lottery tickets and increases the limit to a maximum of '100; creates new offences in relation to allowing children to play gaming machines; creates the power to impose a statutory levy on gambling operators; creates the power to issue a code of practice for gambling operators; broadens the definition of cheating to include attempted cheating; makes gambling contracts enforceable in law and permits bookmakers and bingo clubs to open on Sundays and Good Friday.

However, the most significant part of the new law for promotional marketers and FMCG brands means that as of 27 April 2022, the rules on entering chance based competitions are broadly aligned throughout the UK.

Until now, the regimes were different and offering UK wide prize draws was challenging in the context of NI's antiquated gambling laws. In England, Wales and Scotland, free prize draws involving no payment to enter are not considered to be lotteries, and therefore do not fall within the scope of the ban on lotteries in the Gambling Act 2005. Therefore, they are lawful.

What is payment to enter? This is explained in Schedule 2 to the 2005 Act and states that the cost of purchasing an item so that you can enter a prize draw does not constitute payment, as long as the promoter does not inflate the cost of the product to cover the prize or the cost of running the promotion. This also includes making a normal rate telephone call or sending in an entry form by first or second class post. However, it excludes premium rate calls.

But in NI, the law was much more complex...

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