For many years the law on prize draws (where success does not depend on skill) in Northern Ireland has been different to the remainder of the UK. Whilst in England, Wales and Scotland – where the Gambling Act 2005 applies – it was lawful to organise a prize draw which required the purchase of a product to enter, the same was not true in Northern Ireland. This meant that promoters of prize draws often had to exclude residents of Northern Ireland or provide an alternative free entry route.
This position has now changed by virtue of amendments to The Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (the “1985 Order”) which came into force on 27 April 2022. Article 168 of the 1985 Order now includes a carve-out to the prohibition on organising prize draws for the public, allowing for prize draws where entrants are not required to pay to participate.
New Schedule 15A to the 1985 Order sets out when an arrangement is or is not to be treated as requiring entrants to pay to participate, and this schedule is identical in substance to Schedule 2 of the Gambling Act 2005. Crucially, therefore, the new schedule to the 1985 Order provides that making a payment in order to participate in an arrangement includes paying for goods or services at a price or rate which reflects the opportunity to participate in an arrangement. The schedule thereby makes clear that prize draws in Northern Ireland are now permitted to require entrants to purchase a product or service in order to participate so long as the price of the product or service has not been inflated to take account of the prize draw.
This change to the law in Northern Ireland will be welcomed in particular by many FMCG brands, which frequently use prize draws to encourage purchases of their products. These brands will no longer have to exclude Northern Ireland (or make special arrangements for Northern Irish consumers) in such cases.