Lottery, lucky envelopes, and other sweepstakes

In Victoria, the rules regarding the conduct of lotteries, lucky envelopes and Calcutta sweepstakes are found in the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (Vic) and the Gambling Regulation Regulations 2005 (Vic) (Victoria’s gambling laws). Victoria’s gambling laws are administered and regulated by the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR), which is a government agency under the Victorian Department of Justice.

If your organisation wants to conduct lotteries, lucky envelopes or sweepstakes in another State or Territory, you must comply with the laws that apply in that jurisdiction.

The information on this website is intended as a guide only, and is not legal advice. If you or your organisation has a legal problem you should talk to a lawyer before making a decision about what to do.

Can our organisation hold a lottery?

In Victoria's gambling laws, lottery is generally defined as a scheme by which prizes of money or any other property are drawn or won by lot, dice or any other mode of chance (excluding a raffle).

In short, Victoria's gambling laws establish a licensing scheme for public lotteries, like Tattslotto,  and prohibit the conduct of all other lotteries. However, there are some small exceptions to this rule.

The law allows that small 'lotteries' (such as chance or skill games) can be held at amusement or tourist centres or recreational centres, fetes, fairs, bazaars, carnivals, gymkhanas or other similar functions, where the value of the prize that people are entitled to at each attempt does not exceed $50.

A trade promotion lottery may also be held if it is approved by the VCGR and follows number of requirements. For more information see the fact sheet on trade promotion lotteries below.

What are lucky envelopes?

Lucky envelopes, also known as 'pull-tabs' or 'break opens', are a type of pre-determined lottery that must not be sold to anyone under the age of 18 years. They are sold as break open type tickets where the correct combination of numbers/letters/pictures on the tickets produces a winner. 

Can our community organisation conduct ‘lucky envelopes’ in Victoria?

Under Victoria’s gambling laws, to conduct ‘lucky envelopes’ in Victoria, your organisation must be ‘declared’ (in effect, registered) as a community organisation or charitable organisation by the VCGR. For details on how to do this see our Raffles & other minor gaming activities overview page. 

In addition to being ‘declared’, your organisation will require a minor gaming permit if it is conducting ‘lucky envelope’ games. Permits are currently issued for up to two years.

For general information on minor gaming permits, see our Raffles & other minor gaming activities overview page. To apply for a minor gaming permit for lucky envelopes, see the VCGR's Lucky Envelope Pack publication in the Related Resources section below.

Are there laws that say how lucky envelopes must be conducted?

Yes. Once you have a permit, there are quite detailed rules, set out in Victoria’s gambling laws, which prescribe the way lucky envelope games must be conducted. The rules include:

  • where the lucky envelope tickets can be sold;
  • the cost of a lucky ticket envelope and value of a lucky envelope series;
  • the details to be printed on each lucky envelope ticket;
  • requirements for lucky envelope tickets dispensed via a 'punchboard';
  • requirements for lucky envelope vending machines;
  • requirements for lucky envelopes tickets not sold within the permit period;
    certain record-keeping obligations;
  • requirements to provide the VCGR with an Annual Return containing detailed records and,  in some cases, audited financial accounts; and
  • banking requirements (generally, your organisation will need to establish a separate bank account for lucky envelope receipts and other minor gaming activity).

The full details of these rules are summarised in the VCGR's Lucky Envelopes Pack publication (see Related Resources below).

How are lucky envelope tickets sales treated for tax purposes?

Income tax

Briefly, if your organisation is exempt from paying income tax it will be exempt from paying income tax on proceeds it receives from lucky envelope ticket sales. For more information about whether your organisation is one that is exempt from paying income tax see Getting Started > Tax Issues > Income Tax.

If the organisation is not exempt from income tax, lucky envelope ticket sales will generally be included as assessable income for the purposes of income tax, although there may be some deductions available. For more information, see the ATO's Fundraising Guide or seek specific legal or accounting advice.

Goods and services tax (GST)

If your community organisation has been specifically endorsed by the ATO as a tax concession charity (TCC) or a deductible gift recipient (DGR) it will not be required to pay GST on the price of lucky envelope tickets sold.  If your organisation is not endorsed as a TCC or DGR, whether it is required to pay GST will depend on whether the organisation is registered, or required to be registered, for GST. For more information on TCC, DGR and GST see the Getting Started > Tax Issues section of this website. 

What are Calcutta Sweepstakes?

Calcutta Sweepstakes are a type of lottery where the winner is determined by the outcome of a sporting contingency. They usually involve the auctioning of tickets that have been drawn. 

If your community organisation wishes to conduct Calcutta Sweepstakes, it must obtain approval from the Minister for Gaming (Minister). Links to information about this process have been included in the Related Resources section below.

The Minister can take into account any relevant matter when issuing an approval and the sweepstakes will usually only be allowed when conducted in a way that meets certain conditions set out in the gambling laws.

What other kinds of sweepstakes are allowed?

Victoria's gambling laws allow any competition based on predicting the results of a sporting event or to a sweepstake if:

  • the competition or sweepstake is not of a commercial nature; and
  • the total value of the prizes does not exceed $5,000.

Footy tipping competitions and Melbourne Cup day sweepstakes are legal under this category.



Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR) resources

Victorian Department of Justice (DOJ) resources

Content last updated: 03/02/10