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Your workplace Grand National sweepstake could be illegal

Most companies in the gambling industry are well-versed in what constitutes illegal gambling, particularly given the large fines handed out by the Gambling Commission in recent years.

However, with high-level concerns such as money laundering and, in the current climate, sanctions keeping compliance professionals occupied, it is perhaps understandable that the internal workplace sweepstake might seem harmless enough and provide little cause for concern.

In our experience, many of those working in the gambling industry are keen sports fans. Therefore, it seems logical that after taking bets all week on one of the country’s biggest racing events, the staff members of, for example, a betting shop might want to arrange their own Grand National sweepstake.

The work sweepstake (officially known as a work lottery under current legislation) is typically seen as a bit of fun and a way of engaging staff and boosting morale, especially given entries are based on chance rather than skill. After all, there’s little chance of serious rivalry when the winner is chosen by something as random as pulling a piece of paper out of a hat.

But while there are exceptions to the stringent rules around gambling to allow workplaces to hold such sweepstakes for events such as this weekend’s Grand National, subject to the necessary requirements of course, sadly those workplaces with a premises licence issued under the Gambling Act 2005 are unable to take advantage.

Given this, the betting shop sweepstake is not as harmless as it may seem and in fact, poses a risk that the business/workplace could be operating in breach of the mandatory conditions attached to its premises licence. Operators will therefore need to think of other ways to keep their betting shop staff motivated if they want to stay on the right side of the Gambling Commission.

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