The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland (NI) sought public opinion on reforming the current gambling laws, to see if there is an appetite to modernise them to allow for a more flexible approach.
Parentkind responded because there is a section on lotteries that affects our member PTAs in NI. The feedback we gave to government was based on conversations we have with our PTAs when giving them guidance on licencing laws and advice on how they can operate in accordance with them. We presented the views of parents in PTAs to the Department for their consideration.
Parentkind told the Department that the current gambling regulations are outdated and restrictive, preventing PTAs from maximising their fundraising potential. Specifically, we recommended that:
- £1 ticket price should be removed. We suggest that NI should have parity with GB and have no fixed amount for charge. We recommend retaining each ticket of equal value. The current £1 per ticket is extremely restrictive especially when PTAs are raffling larger prizes. Our PTAs fully know their market and are best-placed to know what charge would be most acceptable in line with their prize and community.
- £80,000 sales limit should be removed. We suggest this is revised to £4m to create parity with GB. This would enable PTAs to offer larger prizes such as cars which would give them more scope of greater income generation and not place unnecessary limitations on their charitable endeavours.
- Parentkind strongly supports the removal of zero online advertisement and sale of tickets. We must enable PTAs to maximise their income generation via raffles and lotteries, and at the same time reduce their workload and paper trail, which enables the small charities to be more efficient with their time and resources. Many PTAs have social media platforms where they promote their work and this legislation needs to be amended to allow them to promote their fundraising by selling their lottery tickets online.
- Parentkind advocates for an independent Gambling Commission that is funded by the commercial industry. Parentkind argues the case for a great need for awareness-raising campaigns on the Lottery Licences in particular. It is not our belief that PTAs are ‘flouting’ the law: they either do not understand it or lack awareness of it altogether.
- Parentkind recommends that the registration and reporting process is made easier and more affordable. Many PTAs are raising only a few hundred pounds per raffle and with the current requirement being that they submit audited accounts within three months of the draw, this makes the process onerous and costly for small organisations.
Never has there been a greater demand on PTAs than at present. With reducing budgets, schools are depending more and more on PTAs to plug the funding gaps. As an organisation we support PTAs to explore alternative ways to fundraise. Our governance materials, all approved by the Charity Commission NI, aid individual associations to be more innovative. However, one of the biggest elements of traditional fundraising is still holding raffles. To ensure PTAs adhere to legislation, we are keen for awareness-raising and education to be a key part of the new gambling legislation. We also strongly argue for greater parity with the GB legislation, because requirements currently imposed upon raffles hugely restrict PTAs’ fundraising potential, and limit the options they have in giving greater financial support to their school communities.