According to news service Buzzfeed, an email was sent out to Labour members last week telling them that if they donated a minimum of £10, they would be entered into a draw to win a weekend at the party’s annual conference in Liverpool, including a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn backstage.
What the email should have said, given the UK’s over-reaching gambling regulation, is something quite different. And this, like much of the regulatory noose, will likely stem the momentum.
Under the UK’s gambling laws lotteries are strictly regulated, and to avoid falling within the Gambling Commission’s remit lottery organisers must provide an option to enter the competition without paying – and give it as much prominence as the paid entry option.
This latter point is where Labour may have fallen foul of regulations, as the email to members twice mentions donating in order to win a prize, with the competition website also stating that members can enter “if you donate”.
Indeed, it is only in the small print – in the terms and conditions at the bottom – that an option to enter for free is mentioned, which is clearly not as prominent as the paid entry option.
The Gambling Commission’s view on this distinction is “that all choices of entry method (paid or unpaid) should be equally publicised together on the same page, and one should not be more or less prominent than the other”.
If the conditions are not met for a free draw, then the competition could become an illegal lottery, the promotion of which is a criminal offence. Furthermore, illegal lotteries carry penalties of a fine of up to £5,000 and imprisonment of up to 51 weeks.
Further evidence it seems that regulation can reach parts other laws cannot reach. And for the Labour Party, if institutional racism doesn’t get you, it’s good to know that a harmless Corbyn meet and greet lottery can.
Such is the state of politics and regulation 2018.