Remote workers who enter Grand National office sweepstakes could be breaking the law

7 April 2022, 11:23

Remote workers who enter Grand National office sweepstakes could be breaking the law. Picture: Alamy

By Liam Gould

Remote workers who are participating in a "work lottery" for the Grand National could be breaking the law if certain measures aren't taken.

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Grand National office sweepstakes could be illegal for employees working from home, according to gambling regulation lawyers Poppleston Allen.

The nation's largest horse race - taking place at Aintree race course - is popular for millions of office sweepstakes every year where shares of a bet are divided among the winners.

But, the law firm has issued a warning that the increase in remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic means people could be caught out.

Richard Bradley, associate solicitor at Poppleston Allen, said physical tickets need to be distributed and all players must be in the same office - which may not be the case if employees are working from home.

"While formal gambling activity is heavily regulated by the Gambling Commission, there is an exception designed to allow the general public to have a bit of fun by taking part in what is officially called a work lottery," he said, according to the Telegraph.

"But what many people may not realise is that the rules are very clear in that you can only sell physical tickets and all players must work in the same office – contests running across different office locations of the same company are not allowed.

“Therefore, if the pandemic has led to staff working from other offices or largely working from home, extra care needs to be taken when running a Grand National sweepstake.

He added: "Organisers, whether employers or employees, must make sure they do not sell any tickets via email or over the phone. Any staff member who wants to play must visit the office and buy a physical ticket.

"If these rules aren’t followed, organisers and players would technically be involved in illegal gambling.”

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The rules weren't regularly used before the pandemic, as many employers didn't have a working from home model. But, as working from home has become a more popular protocol, there are fears many could be caught out by the law.

Other rules that constitute a fair sweepstake by the Gambling Commission include:

  • All players must pay the same amount for a ticket.
  • Horses must be decided by chance, for example, drawn out of a hat.
  • No one can make a profit and all stakes must be returned as prizes, though an organiser can deduct administration costs for running the contest.
  • The sweepstake can only be advertised at the work premises and there must be a winner – the prize cannot be rolled over.