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Considering conducting a Calcutta sweep?

As featured in the June 2022 Edition of the QHA Review

Throughout racing carnival season in Australia, many organisations hold Calcutta sweeps, and it is imperative that organisations consider the gaming licence requirements for not-for-profit or charitable competitions and games.

This article focuses on Calcutta sweeps and whether you are required to obtain a gaming licence to meet regulatory requirements.

What is a Calcutta sweep?

Organisations hold Calcutta sweeps on horse races where people buy tickets for the chance to be allocated a horse. If your ticket is drawn, you temporarily 'own' that horse. Following this, an auction takes place where anyone at the Calcutta sweep bid for each horse in the race – it does not matter if your ticket was not drawn. If you are the highest bidder, you 'own' that horse. At the completion of the auction, 50% of the sale price for the horse goes to the person who drew the ticket and 50% goes into the prize pool. Following completion of the race, the prize pool is disbursed amongst the first 3 places.

What are the Gaming Licence Requirements?

Not-for-profit and charitable games such as art unions, raffles, bingo, lucky envelopes and Calcutta sweeps are regulated by the Charitable and Non-Profit Gaming Act 1999 ("the Act"). Under the Act, games are broken into categories, with some requiring approval for a gaming licence from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation. The three primary categories in which these types of events fall into are set out below.    

Category 1 Games

A gaming licence is not required if gross sale proceeds are not more than $2,000. The total value of the prizes must be at least 20% of the estimated gross proceeds and the game is to be conducted by a non-profit association or individual (in limited circumstances).

Category 2 Games

A gaming licence is not required if gross sale proceeds are not more than $50,000 (excluding bingo). The total value of the prizes must be at least 20% of the estimated gross proceeds and the game is to be conducted by an eligible association – formed and operated principally for a charitable, community, patriotic or sporting purpose or a similar purpose.

Category 3 Games

A category 3 gaming licence is required if gross sale proceeds exceed $50,000 ($5,000 for an art union under a special category). Again, the total value of the prizes must be at least 20% of the estimated gross proceeds and the game is to be conducted by an eligible association.

Obtaining a Gaming Licence for a Calcutta sweep

For Calcutta sweeps for major horse races exceeding the $50,000 gross proceed threshold, an eligible association must make an application for a category 3 gaming licence to the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation. The application will also require the applicant to submit supporting material, including:

  • Copy of the last audited balance sheet;
  • Copy of the current constitution certified as correct by the president/chairperson;
  • Evidence of insurance held for an existing prize with a value of more than $5,000 against loss or damage for an amount equal to its current valuation for the period when tickets go on sale;
  • Details of the method of draw; and
  • Submissions which include the sample of the proposed ticket, cost of the ticket, number of tickets to be sold, etc.

When looking to host not-for-profit competitions and games, it is important to establish the relevant regulatory requirements. If you are looking to host a Calcutta sweep, or another charitable game and are unsure of what is required from a regulatory perspective, please contact me on 07 3224 0230.

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."