Disclaimer: This article offers general information and is not intended as legal or professional advice. You should consult with legal counsel regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current as of January 18, 2022, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject discussed.
Charitable gaming and raffles regulatory guidance for Alberta
Charitable gaming presents a good means of raising funds and awareness for an organization. As a fundraiser, events such as raffles and sweepstakes represent a great balance of low cost and far reach. Few things can drive community engagement as effectively as prizes, making online charitable gaming an attractive option for nonprofit organizations.
How does Alberta define charitable gaming?
In order to qualify as charitable, an organization must have purposes that are exclusively charitable and conduct activities that further those purposes. Under Canadian statutes, charity is defined as:
- Relief of poverty;
- Advancement of education;
- Advancement of religion; OR
- Other purposes beneficial to the community
Overview of regulatory guidance for online charitable gaming-based fundraisers in Alberta
Are charitable on-site electronic and online raffles legal in Alberta?
Yes, Alberta allows for eligible organizations to operate both online and in-person raffles and lotteries for fundraising purposes. Charitable gaming in Alberta is handled by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis board (AGLC).
What types of lottery programs can be run in Alberta?
The province of Alberta allows for traditional raffles, 50/50 raffles, and Chase the Ace raffles.
- Traditional raffles: Require tickets on which the ticket purchaser's name and contact information is recorded. Tickets may be sold for any period of time before the draw. The overall value of all prizes—cash or merchandise—must be at least 20 percent of the total ticket value of the license.
- 50/50 raffles: These may only be run during a specific entertainment event (such as a sporting event) during which ticket sales, the draw, and the announcement of the winner all occur on the same day. The cash prize must be 50 percent of gross ticket revenue.
- Chase the Ace raffles: Tickets are sold for a random chance to win an event prize. The winner of this event is also entered to win a progressive prize. While a progressive raffle may be conducted without limit, a charitable organization may not exceed the total ticket value of the raffle license for which it has been approved.
Can raffle/lottery tickets be sold online for charitable fundraisers in Alberta?
Yes, the AGLC allows registered organizations to sell tickets online for charitable fundraisers. They are permitted to conduct online raffles with the use of an approved electronic raffle system to:
- Accept ticket orders and payments
- Distribute tickets (e.g. email)
- Use a random number generator for selecting the prize winner(s)
- Distribute prizes
Before being used in a raffle, any electronic raffle system software and/or equipment must be:
- Certified by an accredited testing facility
- Compliant with the AGLC Electronic Raffle System Document
- Approved by and registered with the AGLC
Note: Organizations cannot combine paper ticket sales with electronic ticket sales.
Who can conduct charitable gaming-based raffle events in Alberta?
In order to be eligible to operate charitable gaming in Alberta, an organization must:
- Have a broad volunteer membership
- Have an executive who is democratically chosen
- Have members and directors who are unpaid
- Demonstrate that their active programs benefit a significant segment of the community
Only groups who have been registered as charitable with the AGLC may obtain a license to conduct a raffle. An organization is not required to be registered as a charity with the Canada Revenue Agency in order to be considered a charitable organization by the AGLC.
Licensing and registration requirements for online charitable raffles in Alberta
Do you need a license to run a charitable raffle in Alberta?
Yes. Any organization that wishes to operate a raffle or lottery in Alberta must obtain a license from the AGLC.
Types of charitable raffle licenses?
The AGLC offers two types of licenses for charitable raffles: less than $20,000 in ticket value and over $20,001 in ticket value.
How to apply for a charitable raffle license in Alberta?
For organizations operating a raffle with a total ticket value equal or under $20,000, the first step is to fill out the Eligibility for Raffle Licence (Total Ticket Value $20,000 and Less Only) form and submit it to the AGLC. After being approved, organizations may log into their AGLC web account and create their raffle license.
For organizations operating a raffle with a total ticket value of greater than $20,000, it is necessary to fill out the Raffle Licence Application Total Ticket Value More Than $20,000 form. If the raffle will use any online component for ticket sales, prize drawing, or prize distribution, it is also necessary to fill out the Raffle Licence Application Total Ticket Value More Than $20,000 - Addendum Electronic Raffles form. Both forms must be submitted to the AGLC together.
How much does a charitable raffle license cost in Alberta?
The AGLC does not charge a fee for raffle licenses for raffles under $20,000 in total ticket value.
For raffles with a total ticket value of greater than $20,000, the license fees are as follows:
- more than $20,000, but less than $100,000 is $150
- equal to or more than $100,000, but less than $1,000,000 is $500
- equal to or more than $1,000,000 is $1,000
All fees must be paid via cheque or money order included with the application.
What is the validity of a charitable raffle license in Alberta?
A license issued by the AGLC permits the organization to hold a single raffle or event based on the details in the application.
How long does it take to get a charitable raffle license in Alberta?
For a license to conduct a raffle with a ticket value under $20,000, the application process takes 3-5 business days.
For a license to conduct a raffle with a ticket value over $20,001, the application must be submitted no less than eight weeks prior to the event.
Can Ascend assist with running an online raffle-based fundraiser in Alberta?
Yes, Ascend can assist nonprofits and charitable organizations with running an online raffle-based fundraiser in Alberta.
Not following specified government guidelines for charitable gaming can be an expensive affair and a criminal offence. To resolve any queries or concerns about the legality of running a raffle in your state, it’s always advisable to consult a lawyer who has experience in the subject.