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Master Class

Organising an Event - Part 2

Part 2:

Do I need any licences or other sort of permission?

Many activities don’t need a licence. However you should check the situation early on, because if you do find you need a licence or other permission, this can take some time, even months in some cases.

This part of the guide will help you with licences and permission for the following activities:

  1. Raffles, lotteries and race nights
  2. Providing entertainment
  3. Providing alcoholic drinks

Raffles, lotteries and race nights

You do not have to register an “incidental non-commercial lottery”. This is a term that includes raffles, sweepstakes and tombolas. Tickets for this type of lottery must be sold and the winners announced at the event. Anyone at the event (including children) can take part in this sort of lottery. The expenses that can be deducted from the proceeds must not be more than £100, and no more than £500 can spent on prizes (not including donated prizes). See the section providing alcoholic drinks for information about alcoholic prizes.

Find out more about raffles and lotteries on the Gambling Commission’s website.

Bingo and race nights

You do not need a licence to play bingo, or run a race night as long as you are playing for ‘good causes’. This means that the night:

  • can only take place at events where none of the proceeds are being used for private gain
  • players must be informed of the organisation or good cause that will benefit from the money raised

You can play either ‘prize bingo’ or ‘equal chance’ bingo.

For prize bingo:

  • all the prizes are put up in advance and are not dependent on the number of players or amount of money collected
  • there are no limits on the amount of money you can collect for admission fees or ticket sales, or on the value of prizes paid out.

For equal chance bingo:

  • the amount of money paid out in prizes is dependent on how much is collected in admission charges and sale of tickets
  • you can charge each person up to £8 for admission and tickets
  • the total value of prizes for one off events must not be more than £600

Race Nights that are run to raise money for charity, also may not need a licence if they are run on the same basis as above.

Find out more with the Gambling Commission’s guidance Advice on non-commercial and private gaming and betting.

Providing entertainment

The following events do not need entertainment licences between the hours of 8am and 11pm:

  • performances of live unamplified music for audiences
  • performances of live amplified music in licensed premises for audiences of up to 200 people
  • performances of plays and dance for audiences of up to 500 people
  • indoor sporting events for audiences up to 1,000 people

Other examples of performances that generally don’t need a licence are:

  • karaoke – between 8am and 11pm in licensed premises for audiences of 200 or less if there is any amplification
  • incidental music - live music that is incidental to other activities that aren’t classed as regulated entertainment

GOV.UK also holds more detail on entertainment licensing.

If you are planning on playing pre-recorded music at an event that is open to the public, check with your venue to see if it holds licences from PRS (Performing Rights Society) for Music and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited).

If your venue does not hold these licences you should check with those organisations whether you need a licence. A fee will probably be payable.

Providing alcohol

You don’t need a licence to provide alcohol at a private event, such as a street party, as long as it is not being sold.

You also don’t need a licence if the venue has either of the following:

  • a ‘Premises Licence’ and that there is a named ‘supervisor’ who holds a ‘Personal Licence’ to sell alcohol
  • a ‘Club Premises Certificate’ which includes the sale of alcohol

This is something you can check with the owner of the venue.

You don’t need a licence to offer bottles (or other containers) of alcohol as prizes in raffles and tombolas provided the following conditions are met:

  • the raffle must be promoted as an incidental event (ie it is not the main event) within an ‘exempt entertainment’ – this is defined as a bazaar, sale of work, fête, dinner, dance, sporting or athletic event, or other entertainment of a similar character
  • after expenses are deducted, none of the money raised by the ‘entertainment’ is used for private gain
  • the alcohol is in a sealed container, such as an unopened bottle
  • there are no prizes that are just money
  • tickets are only sold during the event, not in advance
  • the raffle/lottery is not the main inducement to attend

You must not sell tickets that can then be exchanged for an alcoholic drink, or to ask for a donation in return for alcohol.

If none of the above apply and you want to:

  • have a bar where alcohol is sold
  • sell alcohol in another way
  • provide entertainment to the wider public
  • charge to raise money for your event

You will need a Temporary Event Notice.

Go to Part 3 of Organising a Community/Voluntary Event