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Licenses required for raffles and lotteries

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Jan. 4, 2019– It is not an uncommon occurrence for Belizeans to conduct raffles as a form of fundraising when extra financing is needed. Many businesses also hold raffles where customers can submit a ticket they received from the business and one lucky person wins a grand prize.

On Thursday, December 27, however, the Lotteries Committee issued a press release reminding Belizeans that in accordance with the Lotteries Control Act, Chapter 151 of the Laws of Belize, promoting or conducting any lottery or raffle without a license or letter of authorization from the committee is actually illegal.

The release defines raffles and lotteries as, “any scheme for distribution of prizes by lot or chance.”

To get a raffle or lottery approved, according to the Lotteries Committee, an application must be made in writing and must be  addressed to the Secretary of the Lotteries Committee. The release also said that all the raffles that the committee sanctions are assigned a reference number that is reproduced on all tickets and advertisements.

There is a fee that accompanies applying for a license or letter of authorization. This fee is based on the value of the prize that the winner would receive and thus, when applying for approval of a lottery, a person or organization must state what they are raffling, the value of the prize, and when the raffle will be drawn. Later, the committee should also be notified of who the winner is.

For prizes with a value of $100-$5,000, the fee is $25; it is $50 for prizes in the $5,000-$10,000 range; and anything over $10,000 has a fee of $100. Local lottery games cost $300 per annum and one- day events cost $25.

Schools and churches do need to apply for the license, but they are granted one for free. NGOs and people who are doing raffles for medical purposes or for charitable organizations can also be eligible for a free license if they state what the proceeds will be used for.

“Any violation to the Lotteries Control Act and its regulations is an offence. Violators shall be liable on summary conviction in a court of law,” the release ended.

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