With numerous accolades from the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners Guide to UK Legal Profession, including “the well-rounded and proactive team is applauded for providing a truly personal service”, we are well-placed to guide clients – whether from within or outside the gambling industry – through the minefield that is the law relating to prize competitions.
Such competitions are a regular feature of product promotions, whether on television or radio, in-store, in the printed media or online. Many of those competitions are wholly illegal.
Put simply, a prize competition is a competition in which success depends, at least in part, on the exercise of skill, judgment or knowledge. To this extent, it differs from a lottery, in which success depends wholly on chance.
However, complex questions invariably arise where the answer is far less clear-cut. For example, often questions arise as to what constitutes a prize and whether a proposed product falls within the category of gaming, betting or a lottery as opposed to a prize competition. We are very experienced in advising – without the need to instruct external Counsel – on the ways to structure a competition so that it can lawfully be organised commercially for private benefit and profit, rather than being categorised as an illegal lottery. In such circumstances, our advice extends to issues of unfair trading and consumer protection and we will ensure that the appropriate tax implications are properly considered.
We have addressed such questions in the context of schemes as diverse as house sale competitions, ‘win-a-car’ competitions, consumer product promotions, so-called free draws by means of mobile phones, text services, emails and other web-based systems, fantasy football games and skill with prizes machines. In some cases, the scheme proposed will be lawful and free from regulatory control. In others, without application of our practical advice and creative thinking, proposed schemes will have been illegal and susceptible to criminal proceedings instigated by the Gambling Commission.