World Cup trophy sitting on football pitch touchline

Avoiding World Cup Sweep-mistakes!

There is always someone who ruins it for everyone, isn’t there? An innocent office sweepstake could be in breach of gambling laws, as if this year’s World Cup wasn’t controversial enough.

Prior to COVID-19 it was probably less of an issue, with working from home still being a significant trend, companies could land themselves in hot water. 

Gambling is tightly regulated in the UK, requiring licences and a heavy structure of rules. Thankfully for workplaces, those wanting to have a flutter in a workplace sweepstake are likely to come under the ‘permitted private lotteries’ exemption on the Gambling Act. 

There is however a huge ‘but’- and one that is likely overlooked by many employers, the rules are very clear that only physical tickets must be sold and all players must work in the same office. 

It is illegal to run a game across different office locations, even if it is the same company. Tickets should not therefore be sold via email, Whatsapp or over the phone. 

If a staff member wishes to take part they must physically attend the office and buy their ticket in person. 

Other pointers to be aware of, the company is not permitted to make a profit, whilst an administration cost can be deducted, the prize money must exhaust your pot once you are done. You must also ensure that a winner is selected and that you do not attempt to roll the game over. 

Breach of the Gambling Act constitutes a criminal offence and can attract a fine of up to £5,000 and a prison sentence of up to 51 weeks. One would hope that an office sweepstake wouldn’t be the focus of regulatory action, however to be on the safe side, our recommendations for office sweepstakes are:

  • Follow the rules and ensure that only physical tickets are sold to staff who are present
  • Don’t sell to clients or customers
  • If you want to inject a bit more fun into the proceedings or want to involve remote staff, arrange an onsite match day where tickets can be bought before a game is shown in the office! 

Looking to avoid regulatory actions relating to a World Cup sweepstake or any other company initiative? Contact our employment solicitors for more information.


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