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What is another word for raffle or lottery?

There are a few different words that can be used as synonyms for “raffle” or “lottery.” Some common alternatives include draw, lottery, sweepstakes, game of chance, and prize giveaway. Raffles and lotteries share some key characteristics – they involve participants obtaining tickets or entries, winners being selected at random, and prizes being awarded. However, there are also some differences between the two terms.

Key Differences Between Raffles and Lotteries

While raffles and lotteries have a lot of overlaps, there are some key differences between the two:

  • Scale – Lotteries typically involve larger prizes and more participants than raffles. A lottery may be statewide or national, while raffles tend to be local events.
  • Legality – In some jurisdictions, raffles are considered a form of gambling and may be subject to gaming regulations. Lotteries are also tightly regulated but legal in most areas.
  • Purpose – Raffles are often used as fundraising events for charities, schools, churches, and non-profit organizations. Lotteries primarily function as for-profit enterprises and major revenue sources for governments.
  • Structure – For lotteries, players generally select their own numbers when buying tickets. Raffle participation is usually based on selling numbered tickets sequentially to participants.
  • Odds – While both are games of chance, your odds of winning a major lottery jackpot are astronomically low compared to smaller raffle prizes.


The word “draw” is often used interchangeably with “raffle.” It refers to the process of randomly selecting the winning ticket or participant in a contest or game of chance. For example, you might hear about a “prize draw” at a fundraiser or charity event for a donated item. The terms “raffle draw” and “lottery draw” are also commonly used to describe when the winning numbers or entries are chosen.


“Lottery” is a broad term that can be used for any game where winners are picked through randomized selection. State-sponsored lottery games that offer big jackpot prizes are what most people think of with this word. But a lottery can also refer to smaller contests like a church 50/50 drawing or workplace sweepstakes for a gift card prize. On the other hand, informal raffles with donated prizes would not typically be considered true lotteries.


A “sweepstakes” is a contest where a winner is drawn from the pool of entrants. It is often used as a synonym for lottery or raffle. Sweepstakes tend to be promotional events, like contests run by brands and companies as marketing. Participants may have to make a small purchase to enter a sweepstakes, but no payment or donation is required to win like in a raffle. Significant prizes like cars, vacations, and large cash amounts are common sweepstakes awards.

Game of Chance

A “game of chance” is any game or contest determined primarily by luck and randomness rather than skill or effort. This broad category encompasses essentially any kind of raffle, lottery, sweepstakes, or drawing. Poker tournaments, roulette wheels, prize wheels, bingo, and slot machines are other common examples of games of chance. The element of randomly selecting winners qualifies raffles and lotteries as games of chance.

Prize Giveaway

A “prize giveaway” can describe any event where participants can enter for a chance to win a prize. This is similar to a sweepstakes, although prize giveaways often don’t require a purchase to enter. Giveaways may be held by radio stations (call in to win!), contests, fundraisers, or promotions. Essentially any raffle or lottery could be described generally as a prize giveaway contest.

Other Words Related to Raffles and Lotteries

Some other terms that are often associated with raffles, lotteries, and prize drawings include:

  • Raffle Tickets – Purchased by participants to enter a raffle; ticket stubs are entered into the prize drawing
  • Lottery Tickets – Paper tickets or computer-generated slips that serve as proof of lottery game entry and numbers selected
  • Winnings – The prizes, cash, or other winnings awarded to raffle/lottery winners
  • Jackpot – The top prize in a lottery drawing, usually reaching an extremely high cash value
  • Prize Pool – The total amount or collection of prizes to be awarded in a raffle/lottery/sweepstakes
  • Entry Form – The means by which someone enters a sweepstakes, such as an online form or mail-in slip
  • Drawing – The event where winning ticket numbers or entries are selected at random


While “raffle” and “lottery” are the most common terms, there are a variety of interchangeable or closely related words. The key unifying factor is the element of chance – winners are chosen at random, not based on skill or qualifications. Other common threads include prizes, tickets, and conducting a drawing to select the winners. The right terminology may depend on factors like the scale, purpose, and structure of the event. But whether you call it a raffle, lottery, sweepstakes, drawing, or prize giveaway, it all comes down to luck of the draw!

Word Definition
Raffle A small-scale lottery used to raise funds, where numbered tickets are sold to participants and prize winners are randomly drawn
Lottery A game of chance in which winners are selected via a random drawing of tickets or numbers
Sweepstakes A contest where winners of prizes are determined by random drawing from among entrants
Game of chance A game whose outcome is strongly influenced by randomness rather than skill
Prize giveaway A contest where prizes are awarded to randomly selected winners who have entered

Examples of Using Raffle Synonyms

Here are some examples of how these different terms can be used in context:

  • The school is holding a raffle/lottery/prize draw to raise money, with tickets being sold for $5 each.
  • Only 500 sweepstakes entries will be accepted, so be sure to enter soon before it closes!
  • Margaret won the workplace holiday bonus giveaway and received $500 cash.
  • The odds of winning the statewide lottery jackpot are about 1 in 300 million.
  • Charity raffles and lotteries are considered legal games of chance in our state.

Cultural Associations and Nuances

The terms “raffle”, “lottery”, and related words also carry some cultural associations and nuances worth noting:

  • “Raffle” often conveys a small, informal event like a school fundraiser or community charity event.
  • “Lottery” evokes large-scale state/national games with big jackpots like Powerball.
  • “Sweepstakes” implies a major corporate promotion or giveaway.
  • “Game of chance” and “prize giveaway” are open-ended, generic terms.
  • Raffles/lotteries have a long history and cultural presence in many areas.
  • Lotteries especially are often used to raise revenues for government programs and public works.

So the exact term used brings with it connotations about scale, formality, purpose, and more. Writers should choose terminology deliberately based on context and desired tone.

Raffle vs Lottery Regulations

There are also legal differences in how raffles and lotteries are regulated:

  • In the U.S., lotteries are subject to state government oversight.
  • Most states allow qualified nonprofits to operate raffles with appropriate licenses.
  • Some U.S. states prohibit or restrict private raffles and lotteries alike.
  • In the U.K., raffles are largely unregulated while lotteries require licenses.
  • European Union law provides frameworks and restrictions for member country lotteries.

So the terminology choice may depend on satisfying legal requirements based on event details and jurisdiction.

Positive and Negative Associations

Raffles and lotteries also carry differing positive and negative associations that influence public perceptions:


  • Raffles raise money for charitable causes
  • Lotteries fund worthwhile public programs
  • Sweepstakes/giveaways are fun promotions and contests
  • They offer the opportunity to win big prizes
  • Raffles and small lotteries are harmless community events


  • Lotteries and casinos enable problematic gambling
  • Lotteries prey on the poor and desperate
  • Raffles are petty events with low-value prizes
  • Sweepstakes bombard consumers with unwanted marketing
  • Raffles and lotteries can be used unethically as scams

So debates continue around ethics, problem gambling, marketing tactics, and other issues. But raffles and lotteries remain popular and are generally accepted when regulated and run properly.

Word Choice Impact on Audience

The terminology choice when discussing raffles or lotteries can impact audience perceptions. So writers should choose words deliberately based on the desired tone and associations.

  • “Raffle” conveys a small, informal, community event
  • “Lottery” evokes a large centralized system and big jackpots
  • “Sweepstakes” implies a corporate national promotion
  • “Game of chance” is a neutral, generic term

Factors like the scale, legality, and purpose of the event should guide word choice. Audiences have built-in perceptions tied to these terms. So writers have an opportunity to use language thoughtfully to shape impressions.

Usage in Different Forms of Writing and Content

These raffle-related terms appear in various forms of writing and content including:

  • News – Coverage of lottery jackpot winners, new raffle regulations, etc.
  • Advertising – Sweepstakes or giveaway promotions
  • Event announcements – Upcoming charity raffles
  • Legal/Regulatory text – Codes for lottery operations
  • Opinion pieces – Commentary on ethics and problem gambling
  • How-to guides – Advice on how to run a raffle fundraiser
  • Research reports – Studies on socioeconomic impacts of lotteries

The terminology may shift subtly based on the context. Formal research writing, for example, would likely use terms like “games of chance” more often. Conversational content may opt for general terms like “prize draw”. But a news story might specifically name “state lottery”, “charity raffle”, or “company sweepstakes”.

3 Sample Sentences Using Raffle Terms

  • The school science club is holding a 50/50 raffle next Friday where ticket buyers can win half the total pot.
  • Sweepstakes rules prohibit employees and their families from claiming laptop and vacation giveaway prizes.
  • Sociological studies often examine factors influencing lottery participation among low-income demographics.


While “raffle” and “lottery” are the most common terms, “draw,” “sweepstakes,” “game of chance,” and “prize giveaway” can serve as synonyms. The choice comes down to nuances like scale, legality, and purpose. Lottery especially evokes large government-run games, while raffle connotes local community fundraising events. Sweepstakes are associated with national corporate promotions. Regulations, ethics, and cultural associations also vary between terms. Ultimately the terminology can influence audience perceptions, so the words should be chosen deliberately based on context, tone, and the characteristics of the event.