Regulatory Guidance
October 29, 2021

Online Charitable Gaming and Raffles in Ontario

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 October 1, 2021, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject discussed.

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.

Charitable gaming and raffles regulatory guidance for Ontario

How does the province of Ontario define charitable gaming?

Ontario has outlined varied forms of charitable gaming. All are designated as a “lottery” and the type of license required depends on the specific game being played. Ontario generally allows for various types of raffles under these definitions.

Raffles include 50/50 draws, elimination draws, calendar draws, electronic raffles, and Catch the Ace progressive raffles. These are all available under a single license.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is responsible for overseeing charitable gaming in Ontario.

Who can conduct online charitable gaming events in Ontario?

The Income Tax Act does not strictly define “Charity”. As such, Canada uses a common-law definition. Any organization wishing to be recognized as charitable must fall under one of the four major “heads” of charity:

  • The relief of poverty;
  • The advancement of education;
  • The advancement of religion; OR
  • Other charitable purposes beneficial to the community

However, each application is unique and is assessed on its own merits and its planned use of proceeds generated. Further, all organizations who wish to be registered as a charity must demonstrate that they benefit the public or a sufficient segment of the public.

To be eligible for a lottery license, a charity must also:

  • Have been in existence for at least one year; and
  • Have a location in Ontario and demonstrate that it can provide charitable services to residents of Ontario.

Licensing and registration requirements for online charitable gaming in Ontario

Types of charitable gaming licenses

Ontario has several distinct types of charitable gaming licenses. For all forms of raffles, only a single license is required. However, for bingo or other events, there is a range of specialized licenses available. A full list of license options can be found on the AGCO website. Licenses are issued by either the province or the municipality.

A license must be obtained from the Province if the total prize pool exceeds $50,000 for events held on federal land, or for electronic raffles. 

A license must be obtained from the municipality if the total prize pool is less than $50,000.

How to apply for a charitable raffle license in Ontario?

To apply for a charitable gaming license from the AGCO, an applicant must fill out all relevant forms that can be found on the AGCO website. The forms required vary based on the license that an organization is applying for. A full list can be found here.

How much does a charitable gaming license cost in Ontario?

The fees for a charitable gaming license in Ontario depend on the game being played. The maximum fee that is allowed is $165 per event for a Municipal Authorization Fee as well as 0.78% of gross wager on all lotteries for a Provincial License Fee.

In addition to this, operators of charitable gaming must pay an annual registration fee. If an organization is operating fewer than three games a week, the fee is $700 per site. For operators running four or more games a week, the annual fee is $12,000 per site.

A detailed list of all fees and charges can be found on the AGCO website.

What is the validity of a charitable raffle license in Ontario?

Unless otherwise stated, all charity gaming licenses are valid for one year from the date of issue.

How long does it take to get a charitable raffle license in Ontario?

A completed application and all accompanying paperwork must be submitted no less than 45 days prior to the scheduled date of the event. All efforts are made to process each application as quickly as possible. However, there are no guidelines on an approval timeframe.

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

Charitable gaming resources for Ontario

Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
90 Sheppard Avenue East, Suite 200-300,
Toronto, Ontario M2N 0A4
Phone: (416) 326-8700

Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1
Phone: (416) 325-1941

Ministry of the Attorney General
McMurtry-Scott Building, 720 Bay Street, 11th floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2S9
Phone: (416) 326-4012

Scale up your fundraising game

Get all your questions answered and learn how it all works.
Get a monthly update from Ascend