Last month, changes to Northern Ireland (NI) gambling law by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 came into force. These important changes affect promoters running NI or UK-wide chance-based promotions.
When running chance-based promotions, there must not be a payment to participate. Previously promotions in NI were required to have a ‘No Purchase Necessary’ option; however, the new legislation makes clear that buying goods at their ‘normal rate’ will not count as payment. This means that the ‘No Purchase Necessary’ option is no longer needed; promoters can require the purchase of a product to enter, provided there is no payment required to participate.
If the price of a product has been inflated or its quality reduced to reflect the opportunity to participate, this will not be the ‘normal rate’ and, will therefore be considered a payment to enter, as will charging for special delivery or premium rate calls or texts. Entry methods which are charged at the normal rate, and therefore do not reflect the opportunity to participate include the cost of sending a letter by ordinary post (ordinary first-class or second-class post), the standard cost of a telephone call, or the minimum cost of sending an e-mail or standard SMS text message.
The above applies to chance-based promotions. If you are running a skill-based competition, charging a payment to enter is unlikely to be problematic.
It is important to note that Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) cannot give legal advice, and promoters should always consider taking legal advice before embarking on promotions with prizes to ensure that the mechanisms involved do not make them illegal lotteries. The Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (as amended) applies in Northern Ireland, and other restrictions may also apply (For promotions in Great Britain, see the Gambling Act 2005).
Whatever your promotion, whether based on chance, or skill, it needs to comply with the rules in Section 8 of the CAP Code and CAP guidance on running promotions with prizes. Present all significant conditions, including a free entry route, clearly and prominently, don’t exaggerate consumer’s chances of winning, and plan ahead to ensure that the promotion can be administered fairly.
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