Regulatory Guidance
August 27, 2021

Online Charitable Gaming and Raffles in British Columbia (B.C.)

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 August 6, 2021, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject discussed.  

Online charitable gaming is a terrific way to raise funds and raise awareness for your nonprofit. Whether it's offering an online raffle, poker, or other gaming events, it can significantly boost funds to help your particular cause. But, before you dive into creating a gaming event, it is essential to be aware of the online charitable gaming laws and regulations for your state or province. Getting a proper online gaming licence can help avoid fines or other legal troubles.

Charity gaming and raffles regulatory guidance for British Columbia (B.C.)

How does the province of British Columbia define charitable gaming?

Canada's Criminal Code and British Columbia's Gaming Control Act define charitable gaming as an activity with three elements:

1. Consideration: "Players must pay or exchange something of value to be eligible to participate."
2. Prize
: A gaming activity that offers money or something else of value.
3. Luck
: A chance for anyone participating to win; winners are drawn randomly.

Who can conduct charitable gaming events in British Columbia (B.C.)?

Regulated by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) of British Columbia, nonprofit or community organizations with a valid gaming licence may run charitable gaming events. The B.C. government explains that they may be eligible if the event "earns revenue to benefit charitable or religious programs and services within B.C." In addition, the organization must show that it’s been providing services for at least 12 months.

Licensing requirements for online charitable gaming in British Columbia

Any not-for-profit organization may operate with an online charitable gaming licence in British Columbia. A nonprofit organization must apply and receive its licence before running an online charitable gaming event. They are also required to comply with the Licensed Charitable Gaming Rules based on the online gaming event type. If multiple events are being held, the organization must have a separate licence for each type of gaming event.

Types of Charitable Gaming Licences

As long as the licence is valid for the event type, the organization may use it for a series of events. So, for example, if a nonprofit decides to run monthly fundraising raffles and comply with online raffle laws, they may use the same licence.

There are four licence classes, separated by the gross revenue for the event and type of event. The gross sales range from up to $5,000 to over $20,000.

  • Class A – more than $20,000 in gross revenue projections
  • Class B – up to $20,000 in gross revenue per licence
  • Class C – no minimum or maximum, but must be run at registered fair or exhibition
  • Class D - $5,000 or less in gross revenue

Some additional licensing and registration requirements:

When using online gaming with a Class A licence, prior approval is required based on the Electronic Raffle Systems (ERS) rules outlined in the Licensed Charitable Gaming Rules.

If an organization applies for a Class D licence, they cannot apply for another Class D license after they hit the $5,000 maximum gross revenue until the following calendar year. After that, however, they may be eligible for a Class A or B licence instead.

How to apply for a charitable gaming licence in British Columbia?

Prepare for your application with the Pre-Application Information for Gambling Event Licences and easily submit your application online. The steps include:

  • Preparation – ensure you know all the regulations for the licence type and the category of your fundraising game(s).
  • Visit the GPEB website and select Online Service, then the Launch Online Service button.
  • Select Gaming Licences. 
  • Find your nonprofit’s profile or create a new profile. 
  • Select the gaming event licence option and choose which class of licence you require for your event.
  • Select the event type (if applicable). 
  • Answer all the required questions, including your event details, and provide supporting documentation based on the licence and event type. 
  • Submit, accept the terms and conditions, and pay the licence fee.

How much does a charitable gaming licence cost in British Columbia?

The non-refundable prices range from $10 to $150, based on the licence type. In addition, certain game types, like a Wheel of Fortune game, require additional fees.

  • Class A: $50
  • Class B: $25
  • Class C: $150
  • Class D: $10

What is the validity of a charitable gaming licence in British Columbia?

After receiving a licence, it remains valid for 12 months unless revoked, suspended, expired, or canceled. Each year, the organization must renew to continue holding online gaming events.

How long does it take to obtain a charitable gaming licence in British Columbia?

Depending on the licence type, after the GPEB Victoria office receives the application, it may take up to 10 business days or up to 10 weeks for the application to process. Of course, it may be a quicker turnaround, but it is better to apply as early as possible.

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 or province, it's always advisable to consult a lawyer who has experience in the subject.

Related: Regulatory Guidance for U.S. States and Canadian Provinces and Territories

Charitable gaming resources for British Columbia

British Columbia Government Victoria
403 - 771 Vernon Avenue, Gateway Village, Victoria, B.C. V8W 9R5
Phone: 250-387-6121

British Columbia Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch
3rd Floor, 910 Government Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W 1X3
Victoria: 250-387-5311 option 1
Canada/USA Toll-Free: 1-800-663-7867

Department of Justice Canada
284 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
Phone: 613-957-4222

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