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Is it against the law to hold a tombola at the local fete?

I have been told it might be illegal to sell tombola tickets at our village fete - how could this be? SR

IT MAY well be the case, depending on the exact circumstances. France has strict laws relating to ‘lotos, lotteries and tombolas’. For a start, they can only be run by associations and even then there are rules to be followed.

A “lottery” is defined as an event open to the public, where there is a prize for the winner or winners and they are selected by a method relying mainly on luck. Some payment or purchase is involved to take part.

A “tombola” is the same, apart from the prize cannot be a sum of money.

A loto is a kind of bingo game.

To be legal a lottery or tombola must:

  • Be for 'moveable' assets only (ie. not land or houses)
  • The association should be involved in good works or encouraging the arts or sport
  • Organising expenses should not be more than 15% of the ‘capital’ - this is equivalent to ticket price multiplied by the number of tickets issued. If the capital is more than €7,500 the association has to show evidence that it is run on a sound financial footing and that the money is for a specific purpose.
  • You need to obtain authorisation from the mayor on form Cerfa 11823.

Organising an illegal lottery can in theory result in up to three years in prison and a €90,000 fine, and up to seven years and €200,000 if it is done ‘in an organised gang’.

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