Licensing and regulations for events

5th April 2017, 12:50am | By Steve |

On this post you will find loads of information that will help you deal with the common forms of regulation you will run into when planning a public event.  We have included links to the right places to make it easy for you to get everything you need checked and approved. Remember, better safe than sorry!

And remember, we are on your side.  We want to make everything as simple as possible for you, we have toolkits, templates and links that will help you along the way.

Don’t be put off and keep thinking of the amazing event or activity you will deliver at the end of it all.  Once you have done this once, next time it will be easy!

Here you will find information on:

  • Raffles and lotteries
  • Bingo and other games of chance
  • Entertainment licences
  • Alcohol
  • Events on public land
  • Food and drink
  • Street collections
  • Street closures
  • Crèches and childcare services

Please check out the licensing pages on the Council’s website before planning your activity.

Please contact your local Community Engagement Manager if you need help.  LINK

1. Raffles & lotteries

The Gambling Act 2005 outlines the conditions for running raffles or lotteries for clubs, societies, charities and other community organisations

You do not have to register a raffle or lottery if you are running:

A. An incidental non-commercial lottery

This is a raffle that takes place during the course of an event – eg the tickets are sold and the raffle drawn during a meeting, fête, dinner dance, or party. Tickets can only be sold at the event and the winners must be announced at the event. No more than £100 can be spent on organising costs, and no more than £500 can be spent on prizes.

B. A private society lottery

This includes raffles where the sale of tickets is restricted to members of your society (club, group or organisation). You can also sell tickets to non-members (guests) but only on your organisation’s premises. The entire proceeds of the lottery must be used for prizes and the benefit of the organisation, once any organising costs have been deducted.

C. A work lottery, residents’ lottery or customer lottery

These include raffles where tickets are only sold to:

  • people who all work on the same premises, or
  • people who all live on the same premises, or
  • people who are customers of the same business (so long as no prize is worth over £50).

These types of lotteries cannot be used for fundraising, however. All money raised must go towards buying the prizes and organising the lottery. Each ticket must state: the price of the ticket; the name and address of the promoters; who is entitled to buy a ticket; and that tickets are non-transferable once they have been sold.

Registering a Raffle or Lottery

A raffle which is run by a non-commercial society (such as a charity or community group), in which tickets are sold to members of the public in advance, is called a ‘Society Lottery’.

If the total proceeds of a Society Lottery are below £20,000 it is called a ‘small society lottery’ and you only have to register with the local council. There is an annual fee of £40 (which is reduced to £20 if you re-register for a second year). The relevant team at Wiltshire Council’s Public Protection Team.  LINK

If you are selling tickets worth over £20,000 the lottery will be classed as a ‘large society lottery’ and you will also have to register with the Gambling Commission. You will also have to register with the Gambling Commission if you sell more than £250,000 worth of tickets over one year (in separate raffles).

To register for a small society lottery you can download a form from the council website LINK or request that they send you one. We suggest that you do this at least 28 days in advance. They will assess your application, including a police check for relevant offences, and issue a certificate if they are satisfied that you meet the criteria. You cannot start your lottery until a certificate has been received.

When your raffle is finished you will need to complete another form showing how much money you collected, and how much you spent on expenses and prizes. You must do this within three months of running your raffle.

The main conditions for a small society lottery are:

  • It can only be used to raise money to support the aims of your organisation. At least 20% of the proceeds must go to this. Up to 80% can be spent on prizes and expenses. No money can go to anything that does not support the aims of your organisation. There must be no private gain.
  • A member of your committee must be named as the ‘promoter’ and this must be agreed in writing by the committee.
  • Your raffle tickets can be paper or electronic, and must include the following information
    • the name of the group running the raffle
    • the name and address of the promoter (this can be the group’s address)
    • the date the raffle will be drawn
    • the price of the ticket (which must be the same for all tickets)
    • confirmation that the raffle has been registered with Brighton and Hove City Council.
  • Tickets can only be sold to those aged 16 or above.
  • Tickets cannot be sold in the street, but can be sold in a kiosk, shop or door-to-door.

There are free online programs you can use to design your own raffle tickets.

You should keep clear records of all money spent, all money received, and how many tickets each individual has taken to sell. This is so that all money and tickets can  be accounted for and you don’t lose track of what you have sold.

2. Bingo & other games of chance

The Gambling Act 2005 states that you do not have to have a licence to play bingo, or run a race night as long as you are playing for ‘good causes’ or as members of a club. This is called “non-commercial gaming”.

Bingo for good causes:

  • this can only take place at events when none of the proceeds are being used for private gain.
  • players must be informed of the organisation or good cause that will benefit from the money raised
  • you can play either “prize bingo” or “equal chance” bingo
  • it must take place in a venue without a premises licence (so not a pub, although pubs can run their own ‘pub bingo’, which is different).).

Prize Bingo:

In prize bingo all the prizes are put up in advance and are not dependent on the number of players or amount of money collected. There are no limits on the amount of money you can collect for admission fees or ticket sales, or on the value of prizes paid out.

Equal chance bingo:

In equal chance bingo the amount of money paid out in prizes is dependent on how much is collected in admission charges and sale of tickets.

  • you can charge each person up to £8 for admission and tickets
  • the total value of prizes must not exceed £600

Club Bingo:

  • only members and their guests can play
  • the maximum admission fee is £1
  • all expenses must be paid from the admission fee and not the fees charged for tickets
  • the maximum amount of money that can be taken in stakes , or paid out in prizes, is £2000. If you want a higher turnover you will need to apply for an operating licence from the Gambling Commission

Race Nights:

The regulations for Race Nights are very similar to those for bingo. You can run a Prize Race Night following the guidelines for prize bingo above, or an Equal Chance Race Night following the guidelines for Equal Chance Bingo above.

3. Entertainment licences

If you are providing entertainment you may need two different licences:

  • a licence from the local council that entitles you to provide public entertainment
  • a separate licence that gives you the right to perform copyrighted material or play recorded music and videos.

Some types of entertainment require the premises to have a suitable licence from the local authority. The licence needed is a Premises Licence, a Club Premises Certificate or a Temporary Event Notice. The licence must specifically authorise the type of entertainment you are providing.

In general, an event taking place at night between 11pm and 8am require a licence. In addition, the following types of activity generally require licences:

  • amplified live or recorded music with an audience of more than 500 people;
  • recorded music on premises not licensed for the sale or supply of alcohol;
  • a performance of a play or a dance to an audience of more than 500 people;
  • indoor sporting events with more than 1,000 spectators;
  • boxing or wrestling;
  • screening a film to an audience.

Who does not need an entertainment licence?

There are some situations in which you do not need an entertainment licence. Bear in mind that you may still need a separate licence to play copyrighted material to show films or play music.

You do not need an entertainment licence for

  • Unamplified live music events which take place between 8am and 11pm
  • Events including live or recorded music with an audience of less than 500, which take place between 8am and 11pm, in a premises which is licensed to serve alcohol
  • Events including live or recorded music, or not-for-profit film showings, with an audience of less than 500, which take place between 8am and 11pm in a community venue (such as a village hall or community centre)
  • Events including live or recorded music, with an audience of less than 500, which are organised by a third party on a school, local authority or hospital premises and take place between 8am and 11pm.
  • Events including any type of regulated entertainment, with any audience size, which are organised by a school, local authority or hospital on their own premises and take place between 8am and 11pm.
  • Events including live or recorded music, with an audience of less than 500, which take place between 8am and 11pm in a workplace.

Getting an entertainment licence

If your event needs an entertainment licence,  check whether the venue has a Premises Licence or a Club Premises Certificate issued by the City Council. The licence must cover the activities you are organising, for example, some premises are licensed for music and dancing but not for stage and film shows. Your event will also have to take place in the premises’ licensed opening hours.

If the venue does not have a suitable licence, you will need to serve a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) on the Council and the Police at least 10 days before the event. TENs can cover events that last up to 96 hours and involve no more than 499 people.

Performing or playing copyright material


If you want to perform music or a play written by someone else, or if you want to play recorded music or video, the premises you are using will need a licence to play copyrighted music.

  • If your event includes live music you must check the venue has a Performing Rights Society (PRS) licence.
  • If you are playing recorded music you must check the venue has a PRS licence AND a Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) licence.
  • Community buildings run by voluntary organisations can buy a joint PRS and PPL licence.
  • For more information contact Phonographic Performance Limited or PRS for Music.


If you wish to show a film in a place which is not a private home, you need a one-off licence giving you the right to show the film. You have to buy a new licence for every film. There are very few exceptions to this, one of which is that you do not need a licence to show a curriculum-based film in a state school.

To obtain a copyright licence to screen a film, contact Filmbank Distributors or Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) (copyright licensing distributors on behalf of all major film studios). For useful information about organising film showings, see BFI Neighbourhood Cinema.

4. Alcohol

You are not allowed to sell alcohol unless you have a licence or have served a Temporary Event Notice. You can download a Temporary Event Notice Application Form from the council’s website, or contact the Health & Safety and Licensing Team.

If you want to sell alcohol you should first check that the venue you are using has a Premises Licence and that there is a named ‘supervisor’ who holds a Personal Licence to sell alcohol. Alternatively it may have a Club Premises Certificate which includes the sale of alcohol. If it does not have either of these you can serve a Temporary Event Notice on the Council and the Police at least 10 days before the event at a cost of £21.

The provision of bottles of alcohol as prizes in raffles and tombolas is exempt from the licensing regulations, provided the the raffle/lottery fulfils certain conditions (The Licensing Act 2003 [Section 175]). These are:

  • The raffle must be promoted as an incidental event (i.e. it’s not the main event) within an ‘exempt entertainment’ – defined as a bazaar, sale of work, fete, dinner, dance, sporting or athletic event, or other entertainment of a similar character;
  • after deduction of expenses, the whole proceeds of the entertainment are applied for purposes other than private gain;
  • the alcohol is in a sealed container;
  • no prize is a money prize;
  • tickets are only issued when the entertainment takes place (i.e. tickets are not sold in advance)
  • the raffle/lottery is not the main inducement to attend
  • it is NOT permissible to sell tickets which can then be exchanged for an alcoholic drink, or to ask for a donation in return for alcohol.

5. Events on public land

You have to apply to the council if you want to hold an event on public land. Permission for this needs to be arranged through the Council. They can also help with advice and information about organising outdoor events.

6. Food & drink

You can sell or provide free food and non-alcoholic drinks as long as:

  • All profits go to the organisation
  • You ensure food is prepared in a hygienic manner and complies with the Food Safety Act.

If you are providing food occasionally (ie less than once a month) or the foods you are providing are low risk foods (eg tea, biscuits, packaged foods stored at room temperature), then you don’t need to register or get any permission.

If your food activity is more regular, or you are providing higher risk foods (eg hot food or food that needs to be kept cold), or you are providing food to vulnerable people (eg older people, children, people who are ill), then you may need to register with the Food Safety Team at Wiltshire Council. See the Food Standards Agency guidance for more details on who needs to register.

7. Street Collections

You need to apply for a licence for a street collection or to collect money at events and in public places. Further advice from Wiltshire Council . The council advises that you book your street collection well in advance as they get very booked up – particularly for the summer months.


8. Street Closures

Street Party

If you want close your street for a street party you need to get permission from the Council and apply for a temporary traffic regulation order. The first step you need to take is to contact the Highway Events Team at the Council to find out if it is feasible for your road to be closed. Some roads are essential access routes for the emergency services and cannot be closed. If a nearby street is to be closed on the same day, the Council may not allow your street to close as well.

If it is feasible, you then need to find out if the majority of the people who live in the street you want to close are happy for you to do so, and that no one has any strong objections. To do this you will need to take a petition door-to-door and get people to sign their names against their house number. The council’s guidance is that it is desirable to get a good majority of residents to sign.

Once you’ve got your petition signed, and at least 28 days before the date of your street party, contact the Council to apply for permission to close the road. The council officer will then tell you what you need to do to proceed. They will contact the emergency services, bus companies and any other organisation who may need to be aware that your road is going to be closed for a day.

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