Charitable Lottery Licensing Overview
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is responsible for administering the charitable lottery licensing program in the province. Municipalities and the AGCO are responsible for issuing lottery licences to eligible charitable and religious organizations. Eligible charitable and religious organizations may raise funds through provincially or municipally licensed lottery events.
Lottery licensing refers to lottery schemes permitted by a licence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Typically, these may include bingos, raffles, break open tickets and special occasion gaming events held by charitable or religious organizations. In Ontario, Order in Council 1413/08 authorizes the licensing framework for eligible charitable or religious organizations to hold lottery events and sets out the limits of municipal and provincial licensing. Licensed charitable or religious organizations must conduct and manage their events in accordance with licensing policies and the terms and conditions of the licences and fulfill all prescribed reporting requirements. Information on conducting and managing lottery events can be found in the AGCO’s Lottery Licensing Policy Manual, which provides an outline of the legal and policy framework and administrative procedures for lottery licensing purposes.
The new Social Gaming Licence was developed in response to requests from community groups, municipalities, and the general public for AGCO to permit small-stakes gaming on a range of social games. The licence is intended to enhance or provide social interaction opportunities for community members such as seniors. All proceeds from these games are paid out in prizes, minus a nominal fee for the organizer to cover expenses to run the event. Charitable organizations may obtain a licence, but fundraising is not the purpose of the licence. The licence is not for conducting games as a revenue source for licensees. This licence is not intended for private homes.
Lottery licences issued by the Province
The AGCO is the licensing authority for:
- bingo events (i.e., Special Bingo, Monster Bingo) with a prize board over $5,500;
- super jackpot bingo events;
- progressive bingo game events and loonie progressive games;
- special occasion gaming event
- raffle lotteries for total prizes over $50,000;
- electronic raffles;
- break open tickets sold by organizations with a provincial mandate;
- lotteries held in conjunction with another gaming event, including break open tickets at bingo events;
- all lottery schemes conducted in unorganized territories; and
- lottery schemes at designated fairs or exhibitions.
Lottery licences issued by the Municipalities
The Order in Council provides municipalities with licensing authority for:
- bingo events, with prize boards of up to $5,500;
- media bingo events with prizes up to $5,500;
- break open tickets for local organizations;
- raffle lotteries for total prizes of $50,000 and under; and
- bazaar lotteries which include: wheels of fortune with a maximum bet of $2.00, raffles not exceeding $500, and bingo events up to $500.
The municipality may attach terms and conditions to a licence, in addition to those established by the province, provided that they do not conflict with provincial Terms and Conditions or policies.
Applications for lottery events licensed by the AGCO must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the date of the event and 45 days for organizations applying for the first time.
Check the Types of Charitable Gaming Lottery Licences page for specific information on each type of lottery event licensed by the AGCO or a municipality (e.g., bingo event, break open ticket, etc.).
If the application for a lottery licence is to be issued by the local municipality, please contact that municipality directly for further information regarding turnaround times, licensing fees, and required documentation.
Charitable Gaming Eligibility Management
To help reduce the amount of time needed to complete Charitable Gaming Eligibility (CGE) applications, the AGCO will now assess an organization’s CGE online through iAGCO.
Once the CGE status is approved, charitable gaming lottery licence applications may be submitted using a CGE number without needing to resubmit eligibility documents.
Not all charitable gaming licensing applicants will require a CGE number. Exemptions include Bingo Hall Charity Associations, Fairs and Exhibitions and organizations fundraising on behalf of Federated Health and The United Way.
The AGCO has reduced the list of documents required as part of CGE applications. Eligibility is now assessed using the following documents:
Constituting documents, bylaws
Letters patent (if available)
Budget, financial statement
Board of directors
Bona fide members list.
The eligibility review process will not be repeated with each application, unless there has been a significant change to the organization, such as a change of directors or officers, or there is another reason to review the eligibility of the organization.
Significant changes to an organization must be reported to the AGCO.
The CGE number replaces the Group Identification Number (GIN) that was previously used.
The CGE process is used by the AGCO only.
Municipalities and First Nations conduct their own eligibility assessments for licences they issue.
How is Eligibility Determined?
In the first instance, the licensing authority will review all relevant documentation to determine eligibility for lottery licences. These decisions are based on what is considered charitable in law, including the Criminal Code of Canada, previous court decisions, Order in Council 1413/08 as amended, and the policies issued by the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing.
The courts have determined that the term “charitable” refers to organizations which provide programs for:
- the relief of poverty;
- the advancement of education;
- the advancement of religion;
- other charitable purposes beneficial to the community.
Each application is unique. Determinations of eligibility will depend on the specific organization and its proposed use of proceeds.
The following pre-requisites are mandatory to be considered eligible for a lottery licence:
- Organizations must have been in existence for at least one (1) year before being considered eligible for lottery licences.
- The organization must have a place of business in Ontario, demonstrate that it is established to provide charitable services in Ontario and use proceeds for objects or purposes which benefit Ontario residents.
What is Needed to Determine Eligibility?
When an organization applies for a lottery licence, the following documents or information are required so that eligibility can be reviewed:
- Incorporation Papers (Letters Patent)
- Constitution and By-Laws
- Notification of Charitable Registration (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency) (if applicable)
- The most recent Registered Charity Information Return & Public Information Return, as submitted to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (if applicable)
- Financial Statement for Previous Fiscal Year (audited, where applicable)
- Detailed outline of all programs/services provided in the previous year and specific costs incurred in delivery
- Detailed outline of all programs/service currently provided and specific costs incurred in delivery
- The current operating budget
- Current Listing of the Board of Directors
- Any other information that will assist in determining the charitable nature of the objects and purposes. This could include an annual report, correspondence relating to its charitable number for income-tax purposes, and confirmation that it meets the reporting requirements of the Charities Accounting Act
- The proposed use of proceeds, which must be consistent with the primary objects and purposes of the organization and of a charitable nature consistent with at least one of the four classifications of charitable purposes.