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It would not be Melbourne Cup without a sweep whether it be between a group of workmates, friends or function goers. A sweep usually involves each entrant being given a horse in a particular race (or number associated with a horse) in return for the payment of a sum of money, for example $1. The money raised is then distributed as prizes between those who have entered the sweep only. 

A sweep, or sweepstake as it is defined in the Lottery and Gaming Act 1936 (SA) ('Lotteries Act'), is a form of lottery. Whilst the Lotteries Act declares all forms of lotteries as unlawful (s 5), lotteries conducted in a certain manner are exempted and will be deemed lawful. For a sweep to be considered lawful it must be conducted in the following manner (see reg 8 Lottery and Gaming Regulations 2008 (SA)):

  • gross proceeds of the sweep must not exceed $2,000, and
  • all of the proceeds must be given back in prizes (although an admin fee of not more than 2% of the gross proceeds can be deducted if necessary), and
  • the prizes need not be cash, they can be goods and services equal to the gross proceeds (provided they are not prohibited goods or services eg tobacco, firearms, prohibited weapons), and 
  • each ticket in the sweep must give rise to a fair and equal chance of winning the major prize. 

As most Melbourne Cup Sweeps require only a small fee for entry (eg $1 or $2), the gross proceeds are not going to exceed the $2,000 threshold. Further, it is usual for all proceeds to be paid out in prizes. There is no requirement the prize amounts be pre-determined for the sweep to be lawful and prizes do not need to be paid to particular place getters (eg you may choose for a prize to be paid to those holding the horses that come first, second and last, rather than first, second and third). However, it is recommended that entrants are told which placings will win and the value of the prize for each at least prior to the race. In the event a winning horse has not been given to a participant (uncommon but may occur), the prize money associated with that horse must still be distributed between entrants and not used for some other purpose. 

Members should contact Gary Coppola and Didier Vollerin at the AHA|SA if they have any queries about sweeps, whether it be on Melbourne Cup day or any other race day. 

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