Couple’s plan to raffle off £500,000 home thwarted by gambling rules

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A retired couple who offered the chance to win their £500,000 four-bedroom home and swimming pool with a £10 raffle ticket have had to close the competition with “sincere regret and upset”.

Robert and Avril Smith announced last year that they were hoping to sell 60,000 of the £10 tickets giving the public a chance to win their home in Grosmont, North Yorkshire.

The winner was originally to be drawn on Thursday, but Mr and Mrs Smith said they are “back to square one” after being told by the Gambling Commission that it was not a legal prize competition.

The couple said they had already extended the draw date to August after the charity Cancer Research UK had agreed they could hand out leaflets for the competition at some of the charity’s events in 2019, but found out just before Christmas they could not continue.

Dear AllGET A REFUND HERE It is with sincere regret and upset that this competition has to…

Posted by Win A Yorkshire Home on Thursday, December 20, 2018

“The Gambling Commission has deemed the competition a potential lottery and not a legal prize competition.

“We understand the disappointment to you all and can only apologise sincerely as well as offer a full refund.”

Last year, Mr and Mrs Smith said the home has an outdoor heated pool, log cabin, orangery and hot tub, but they wanted to move closer to their son in Harrogate.

Win A Yorkshire Home –

Posted by Win A Yorkshire Home on Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mrs Smith battled cancer 10 years ago and the couple also lost their daughter three years ago.

Her husband said on the website: “As you will have seen, my wife and I have been through a lot over the last three years and it was hoped that this would give us the break we need. Unfortunately, we are back to square one.”

On Thursday, Mr Smith said the Gambling Commission had been aware of the competition in July but only informed him of its decision a few days before Christmas.

He said: “This has been our worst Christmas in 48 years of marriage. But we’ve just got to try and pick ourselves up.”

Mr Smith, 75, said they are now refunding more than 6,000 people who bought a ticket – some buying more than one.

He said: “They will not lose out. The only losers are me, my wife and Cancer Research.”

He added that he will still be making a donation to the charity.

The couple criticised the Gambling Commission for not informing them sooner and also said the decision was contrary to the legal advice they had been given.

They said the house is open to offers in the normal way and ticket refunds can be claimed through the website.

The Gambling Commission said it could not comment on specific cases but a spokesman said: “The commission has duties to prevent illegal gambling.

“This includes identifying when promotions described as ‘competitions’ or ‘free prize draws’ are in fact lotteries which should be properly licensed.

“In regulating lotteries we work to protect the funds that go to a range of good causes such as charities, hospices, air-ambulance services or other not-for-profit causes, all of which heavily rely on income from lotteries to support their work.

“The commission will act where schemes are organised and promoted that amount to unlicensed and illegal gambling.”

Jaelithe Leigh-Brown, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman, said: “We would like to thank Robert and Avril for their offer to make a donation to CRUK. We sincerely hope that they can find a way to move closer to their son in Harrogate.”

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