Legislation for Race Nights and Bingo

Legislation in different states and countries may affect the way race night and bingo fundraising events are organised.  Generally the laws for race nights and bingo are closely related. Here is a brief overview of the legislation for different regions. We can accept no liability for errors.

The UK

Race Nights and Bingo as one-off fundraising events, are classified as an 'exempt' lottery in the UK which means they can be run without a licence. A race night is not gambling and you do not need a gambling licence to run a race night.


Legislation in the USA varies from State to State. Most States make allowances for 'Charitable Gaming'. The law in Illinois for example specifically mentions race nights in the charitable games act. Many other States such as Kentucky make special provisions for fundraising (charitable fundraising). Some States have more restrictive legislation.


In Canada the legislation varies from State to State. Many States make special allowance for charitable fundraising events e.g. Ontario.


In Australia the legislation varies from State to State.  Most States make special allowance for charitable fundraising events. Thus in Western Australia permits to raise funds from gaming related activities are provided under the Gaming and Wagering Commission Act 1987.

In NSW a representative of the office of charities (NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing) whom we contacted, stated that under the "Unlawful Gambling Act",  betting is unlawful unless conducted by the TAB or a licensed bookmaker, but confirmed that "a race night is legal if it is run with fun money and people simply make a 'donation' to attend the event and participate"  i.e. it is legal if it is run after our donation-based racenight formula

New Zealand

In New Zealand The Gambling Act 2003 applies to race nights and provided the prizes are less than NZ $5,000, a community based organisation does not need a gaming licence.

The European Community   (except UK)

In regions of the EC outside of the UK, the laws vary.  In the EC only Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom have relatively advanced community-fundraising culture.