House Hoopla! – Devon House Raffle Update

Miss Thrifty10 October 16, 2008

Following my round-up of property raffles a few weeks ago, this blog has received oodles of hits from people in the UK searching for home hooplas. So thanks to Miss Thrifty reader Sima for alerting me to the news that the draw for that lovely 11.5 acre fishing estate in Devon, which was due to take place today, has been postponed pending a Gambling Commission investigation.

The issue appears to revolve around the difficulty level of the question that all entrants had to answer correctly before they could purchase a ticket. The couple who have organised the raffle did clear the question (“What is the cost of an adult full season coarse fishing license for 2008/2009?”) with the Gambling Commission before launching their house raffle sale, so fingers crossed that the draw goes ahead. If worst comes to worst, they have pledged to give everyone their money back.

I have copied their statement below, in full.

Apparently the last-minute flurry of interest from the powers-that-be has been sparked by the growing numbers of house raffle sales around the country. Here’s an update on the others:

Win a Cheltenham House has now sold nearly 9,000 of its 46,000 tickets. Entries are £25 a pop. The couple organising this one has also introduced a “gift certificate” option, which I think is nifty: you purchase a ticket in the name of your intended recipient; the organisers then e-mail you a colourful pdf of the ticket emblazoned with that person’s name, for you to forward. Nothing on the site about any Gambling Commission intervention.

Win a Ludlow Chapel still looks to be on, too. £25 a pop, for a chance to win this pretty 4-bed conversion.

Aha! What’s this? Another prize draw house raffle in Devon. This one’s a 6-bed manor house with an annexe and a jacuzzi. A portion of the proceeds go to charity, and at the time of writing 1,750 tickets have been sold. I don’t know much else about it though.

As for the house in Ingleby Barwick: no news. Hmmm.

From the Wilshaw’s blog:

We are so sorry to have to tell all of our entrants that the Draw has been postponed.

The Gambling Commission have begun looking into the concept of House Competitions generally and as part of that process we have contacted and are in discussions with them to confirm that the competition meets their requirements.

At this late stage of proceedings, the Gambling Commission have asked for more information on the Competition question, despite the fact that we approached them for guidance before the start of the competition in March of this year, only to be told that they had no issues with our conduct or the running of the competition.

It seems that after our success, which was only made possible by our entrants and the public support which we’ve received, a number of copycat projects have launched which the commission are concerned may not comply with their guidelines. This means that they are looking into all similar competitions and raising issues over the concept of dealing with property in this innovative way.

We have been asked to demonstrate why we believe that our question prevented a significant number of people from participating in the competition, which is the main legal test to decide whether or not the competition is authentic rather than a simple lottery or game of chance.

We and our Solicitor have responded immediately and told the Commission that only a small minority of the population have purchased coarse fishing licences over the past year – around 500,000 from an adult population of 45 million. As such, only a small minority of the public would know the answer to our question without any basic research over the internet which the Commission’s guidance stated was in line with the current legislation.

We realise that the Commission will need to make checks given the sheer number of sites coming on line, but we are of course frustrated by the timing of their queries and the fact that they have previously made open statements to us and to the national press that the Competition was lawful. We were asked to postpone the draw on October 3rd and since then have done everything we can to assist the commission and to demonstrate that we have followed their guidelines to the letter, however the process is still ongoing and as such we have no choice but to postpone the draw to ensure that all of our entrants still receive their chance to win.

We, like you, are desperately disappointed by this news, coming so close to what should have been the most exciting time in this project and the realisation of handing the keys to our dream property to the lucky winner. We are also devastated that, by changing the rules after the process began, the Commission may decide that our dream may not be realised.

We are continuing our discussions with the Commission and can reassure all of you that the entry fund is still in place and still safe. The worst case scenario is that all of our entrants will be issued with a full refund if the draw does not go ahead.

UPDATE! On 6 January 2009 I published updates on all these win a house competitions. Click here to read.

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10 Responses to “House Hoopla! – Devon House Raffle Update

Really interesting. In theory (if you had a reserve re how many tickets you had to sell) it could work and be life changing for the winner! Having said that, if people buy too many tickets or this becomes popular it’s a lot to lose each week!

October 17, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Sima says:

The issue may not be the difficulty of the question, but whether they can convince the Gambling Commission that there scheme wasn’t designed to make it easy for people to participate – subtle, but important difference.

To explain, they need to explain that their scheme required enough skill, knowledge or judgment so that

1. it stopped a significant proportion of the people from entering

2. it stopped a significant proportion of people from winning (being right)

As all the tickets were sold only to right answers they can’t satisfy test 2.

So can they satisfy test 1?

They asked one question; it was checked and the entrant was told if they were wrong; the entrant could keep trying until they got it right over a number of months…

Not surprisingly, as they needed to sell 46,000, they didn’t really want to put people off buying tickets so they asked the question and ensured that a person buying one ticket (or 10 tickets, as you could buy multiples by using the drop-down) was confident they were not paying £25 (or £250) on the back of a wrong answer.

This may or may not prove to be a problem when they explain to the Gambling Commission why their scheme was tough enough to put people off.

October 17, 2008 at 11:34 pm

philip harber says:

I have purchased a ticket from oldbrough fishing retreat, having seen the house on the bbc news website i felt i could trust this raffle, i am still waiting to find out what is happening, i have heard that the raffle is postponed due to the gambling commision, and that we will get our money back if the raffle can not go ahead, but no metion of what happens to the intrest from £1.2 millon, iwould like to know.

November 10, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Serena says:

Actually, this competition didn’t/doesn’t hold a candle to the for ten properties in Spain, on Mallorca to be precise. The odds, 10 winners in 33,333 participants, are much better, and the prizes are really delightful (I stayed in the holiday complex last season). Not only that, you can get your money back, either before or after the draws just by staying at Scott’s Hotel, a wonderful 4 star townhouse. Of all the competitions, this is the one.
Good luck if you enter — I’m planning on winning the big 2 BR house.

January 6, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Pink says:

Stay away from the raffle “Serena” is pushing… Also goes under other names, like

If you read the newsletter it’s full of offers to become a ‘bondholder’ or a ‘shareholder’ in their hotels. Every so often a friend of Mr Scott also falls ill, or his son needs money for a new project, so he brings you a new amazing opportunity to make a guaranteed high return on your money by giving him €€€…

Even if you happened to win a property (it has been going on for years) you won’t actually own it until all others have been raffled, which could take a looong time. I’m sure they manage to get some poor players to part with their savings so beware – he even used to claim Obama and Nadal bought a ticket!

And forget about getting trying to ‘re-sell’ your hotal/raffle voucher after the raffles, it will have zero value especially after the owners have moved on!

December 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Serena says:

Actually, “Pink” — whoever you are — what you’re claiming is a calumny against the Scott’s. Their hotels are rated among the best in the Mediterranean and if you buy a ticket to the raffle and then visit either of the hotels, you get your money back. How is this at all fraudulent? And Rafa Nadal did buy a ticket for the raffle, and someone did buy one for Barack Obama; no other claim was ever made.

And the bondholder scheme referred to closed six years ago and no one lost any money on it.

Some people seem to have nothing to do but stand on the sidelines and jeer at folk who are actually trying to do interesting things. My original comment above was merely an observation that I’d prefer to have a go to win a pretty villa with gorgeous views at odds of 1 in 3,333 than a fish farm that was losing £12,000 a month (according to the owners, quoted in the Sun article) at odds of 1 in 46,000. I can say that now that a German has won the fish farm.

Anyway, I’m taking part in the raffle free because I stayed at the Townhouse hotel last autumn and got my raffle voucher money taken off my bill when I checked out. What do you say to that, “Pink”?


January 4, 2010 at 6:51 pm

White Knight says:

Hi Pink

I agree totally with what you say about the raffle in Mallorca, I have some interesting info if I can contact you some how?

July 27, 2010 at 10:56 am

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