The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Things Kiwis try to raffle – and why some might be breaking the law

6 June 2019

Raffling a military tank is always going to grab the headlines, but what else do Kiwis try to raffle?

How about:

  • A house
  • Cars
  • Vaping equipment
  • Makeup
  • Alcohol

While it’s not illegal to run a raffle, there are a few rules that some people may not be aware of.

Charlotte Stanley, Deputy Director Gambling Regulations at the Department of Internal Affairs, says many people don’t realise that raffles and sweepstakes are considered ‘lottery games’ under the Gambling Act.

“This means there are rules you need to follow when organising a raffle or you risk breaking the law,” says Charlotte.

“The biggest mistakes people make are raffling something that’s worth a lot of money and running the raffle online. If the prize is worth more than $5,000 you need a licence and the money raised needs to go to an authorised charitable purpose.

“While this may sound like unnecessary red tape, the rules around gambling are there to ensure that gambling in New Zealand – including raffles – is fair, well-run and any potential harm is minimised. It also means money goes back to the community. Every year, nearly $750,000,000 is returned to the community through grants and other fundraising.

“As a modern regulator, we want people to understand what they can and can’t do and would rather educate people about raffles than simply prosecute everyone who breaks the law by mistake.

“If you’re unsure about the rules give us a call or visit our website: and type ‘Raffles’ into the search bar.”

How to avoid breaking the law by mistake

You can run a workplace or club raffle, like a Melbourne Cup sweepstake or meat pack raffle, if the retail value of the prize is under $500 and all the ticket money goes towards prizes.

Otherwise, all proceeds must go to an authorised charitable purpose.

If your raffle has a retail value of more than $5,000, you need to apply for a licence from the Department of Internal Affairs, and meet a number of criteria.

There are some things that can’t be offered as prizes such as alcohol, weapons and taonga tuturu (an object more than 50 years old that relates to Mâori culture, history or society, and was manufactured, modified, used, or brought into New Zealand by Mâori).

The person conducting the raffle can’t take a cut of the money raised by the raffle.

Online gambling, including raffles, are prohibited. This means that raffle tickets can’t be sold on websites like Trade Me, Facebook or over the phone. The exceptions are gambling through the authorised Lotto and TAB websites.

Is gambling a problem for you or someone you know?

The Gambling Helpline offers free and confidential information and support over the phone: 0800 654 655 or text 8006.


Media Desk
Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs
Mobile: +64 27 535 8639 email: