Ontario, like every province or territory in Canada, has its own set of rules and regulations governing lottery for charity. We’ve broken down Ontario’s charitable lottery regulations for you and done our best to explain a few of the trickier parts. If you’re planning on running a charitable lottery in Ontario and are wondering if, for example, you need a nonprofit raffle licence or you want to get familiar with the 50/50 draw rules in Ontario, we’re going to do our best to help. Before we get into the details, we just want to say that, yes you can use Zeffy’s zero fee fundraising platform to sell tickets online in Ontario. We’ve written down the steps for setting up your online raffle, but you should keep reading before you get started.
Well, in classic Canadian style, the official definition varies ever so slightly from province to province. In Ontario, charitable and non-profit organizations’ lottery fundraising activities are regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)—and they define a lottery as:
… a gaming event or scheme that is conducted by a charitable or religious organization or a nonprofit group with charitable objects and purposes. The policies apply to raffles, break open ticket sales, charity bingo and one-time special occasion gaming events and bazaars run by these organizations.
In Ontario both Municipalities and the AGCO (the province of Ontario) are responsible for issuing charitable lottery licences to nonprofits.
In Ontario, eligible charity and nonprofit organizations may raise funds through provincially or municipally licensed lottery events, but how do you know if you’re eligible?
Well, to receive a lottery licence in Ontario, you must
Registration under the federal Income Tax Act as a charitable organization does not mean your nonprofit will automatically be eligible for a lottery licence. And, you guessed it, eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.
If your nonprofit or charity only promotes the private interests of your members, you might not qualify. (Sports teams, unions or employee groups, social clubs, professional associations, political, government, lobbying or advocacy groups.)
First, read the first three chapters, and the chapter(s) related to the lotteries that interest you, of the Lottery Licensing Policy Manual.
Next, apply for a lottery licence from the AGCO if you’re planing:
Smaller prized lotteries only require a municipal licence. (We found googling your municipality+charitable lottery licence was the best way to get the info you need.) But, if the raffle is electronic, you must be licensed through AGCO—regardless of the total value of the prizes.
Charitable gaming fees vary but are usually around 1-3% of the total value of the prizes and must be paid to the AGCO when submitting the application.
You’ll find a list of the documents you need to include with your application on the AGCO’s Electronic Raffles page. There’s nothing too surprising in the list, except that you need to include a sample ticket. For information on what to include on your ticket, you can visit the ticket requirements page.
Ontario has an Electronic Raffle Regulatory Framework that allows eligible nonprofit or charitable organizations to be licensed to conduct and manage online raffles in Ontario.
Electronic (online) raffles involve the use of computers for the sale of tickets, the selection of winners and the distribution of prizes in a licensed charity raffle.
There’s a lot more useful info on the electronic raffles page and it’s surprisingly clear.
Here’s a recap of all the documents mentioned in this article:
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)
The online application form(s) (Scroll down a bit.)
Lottery Licensing Policy Manual
Ontario Raffle Licence Terms and Conditions
Online raffles AKA electronic raffles page
Zeffy’s online raffle how-to guide
Charitable Lottery Regulations in Alberta
Charitable Lottery Regulations in British Columbia
Charitable Lottery Regulations in Manitoba
Charitable Lottery Regulations in New Brunswick
Charitable Lottery Regulations in Newfoundland and Labrador
Charitable Lottery Regulations in Nova Scotia
Charitable Lottery Regulations in PEI
Charitable Lottery Regulations in Quebec