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.