To be eligible for a lottery licence, an applicant must qualify either as an eligible charitable organization or as a non-profit organization with charitable objects or purposes.

There is no general statutory definition of “charity” and “charitable.” Although there are many worthwhile activities and causes, not all are considered charitable. An essential and common element in the determination of what is charitable is the provision of “public benefit.” What is considered to benefit the public does not remain constant. It changes with the changing values and needs of society and reflects the social conditions of the time.

In order to determine which organizations are eligible for lottery licences, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) uses the four charitable classifications described in the next sections. In order to qualify for a lottery licence, an organization must demonstrate that it exists to provide services in one of the four charitable classifications. In addition, an eligible organization must also meet all of the following criteria:

  • It provides a charitable benefit to residents of Ontario.
  • It benefits the public at large, not a private group.
    • An organization that is established solely for the benefit of its members is not an eligible organization. It does not have a public benefit.
  • It does not restrict access to its benefits.
    • Organizations may direct their charitable works towards specific segments of the community or individuals with a common need, provided that more than a few individuals benefit, and the charitable benefit is accessible to the public at large.
    • An organization that otherwise restricts access is not an eligible organization. Organizations that exist to provide service to individuals with a common need may provide services on an individual basis.
  • Its income is not paid to or used for the personal benefit of its members, its members’ relatives or anyone who is not at arm’s length from the organization.
    • An organization that transfers income or assets to its members for their personal benefit is not an eligible organization.
  • Projects with a charitable object or purpose are one of its main aims and normal activities.
    • An organization that does not have a mandate to provide charitable works and does not provide charitable works on a regular basis is not an eligible organization.

An organization may have objects or purposes that focus its activities towards a specific segment of the community, for example, Indigenous persons, senior citizens or people with physical or developmental disabilities. Such organizations may be eligible if their objects or purposes and activities fall within one of the four charitable classifications. A licensing official must assess the activities of the organization in order to determine whether the organization is eligible and, if so, within which of the four charitable classifications it falls:

  1. the relief of poverty
  2. the advancement of education
  3. the advancement of religion
  4. other charitable purposes beneficial to the community, not falling under (a), (b) or (c).

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