Monday, 10 November 2008

Raffle my house - property lottery or property competition?

I am thinking of going into the house raffle/lottery/competition business. Why? Because people appear to be making cash from such activities.

As another property hits the pages of the press for being offered as a prize in a lottery (sorry competition), I decided to delve a little deeper and actually read the terms and conditions of this Cheltenham property raffle. What amazed me the most was a clause that allows the owners/promoters to charge 35% for admin.

This is great for the promoters when one takes into account that the vast majority of these raffles/lotteries don't ever appear to meet the minimum amount of tickets needed to be sold. For example, take the Cheltenham house. Currently, 9200 odd tickets have been sold at £25 a pop = £230,000. Given the competition has been running since September and with a minimum 40,000 odd tickets needing to be sold it doesn't look likely they will reach this threshold (especially as they have had TV coverage to boot). Depending on the volume of tickets sold the pot of loot can then be offered as a prize draw so £230,000 x 35% is a cool £80,500 (at current numbers) in admin. Not bad for a few months online marketing.

Surely a win, win for the owner. In the extreme event they sell all the tickets, they sell the house at the probably over valued rate and if they don't sell all the tickets they make a tidy sum in admin charges. On balance, the punter has the raw end of the deal as a £25 stake at 9,000 to one for £150,000 isn't great odds.

Issues are still being mooted as to whether these events constitute an illegal lottery and I have read of one woman being arrested. That said, the main thrust of the argument revolves around the level of skill required to answer the question so it wouldn't be too difficult to make the question a little harder and fall within the guidelines.

So why not build a property competition portal and take a modest % for admin.

Roll up, roll up!


Fred Reggie said...

Warning! These raffles are illegal in every state unless conducted by qualified nonprofit organizations, and only in certain states that allow it. You will be exposing yourself to some very expensive and serious legal issues which could result in criminal charges.

I consider myself an expert in home raffles, having directed and developed a national home raffle program for a major nonprofit for over ten years. We gave away over 160 homes in 32 markets in 16 states. The legal stuff is not simple - even for the nonprofits conducting the raffles.

Anonymous said...

As is generally the case with lotteries the only really winners are the lottery organisers. That said I don't see any reason why these types of lotteries should be illegal.

Matthew at SPF said...

Subject to checking competition law. Should be an idea for a home owner desperate to sell! Could this be a way of helping people get on the property ladder?

Matthew at SPF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred Reggie said...

Not sure what "competition law" is nor do I know what the "property ladder" is. The fact of the matter is this is gambling and gambling is illegal - even in Las Vegas for this type of raffle.

My prediction is there will be a legal backlash as these programs continue to proliferate. Those who are conducting these for personal and private gain are sure to screw things up for the legitimate nonprofit organizations who could benefit from programs like these.

Anonymous said...

Wrong side of the pond Fred. This is for the UK housing market where the gaming laws are a lot more relaxed.

Anonymous said...

There is a totally legal way of doing this, i am also thinking of doing the same

i have been speaking to a company called Prize Home who have been very helpful

i did have a number but cant find it

you could try emailing info at

Anonymous said...

It looks like a few of these competitions will struggle to get enough people to hear about their competition, they need to sell so many tickets!

I've read about quite a few of these types of win a house competitions being cancelled over recent weeks:

I guess there should be a few ways of making sure it works legally, but some of these are probably quite expensive to set up properly.

Anonymous said...

I bought a ticket for the Cheltenham house competition under the old rules. When thE competition rules changed to a spot the ball competition, I informed the Bawtrees that I did not want to enter the new competition and requested a refund.
I have sent numerous emails and get fobbed off with a "refunds are being done at the moment - we are getting through about 200 to 300 a day" that was on the 4 April.
Surely they cannot pay the winner until all refund are done.
I don't know what action I can take if the money's not refunded. BEWARE OF THESE HOUSE RAFFLES! Jean Australia

Anonymous said...

For anyone interested, there is now a book about home raffles titled, "The Home Raffle Book" and is located at It's a must read for anyone conducting or participating in a home raffle and it includes a sample business plan.

Anonymous said...

The "Win the Cheltenham House" 'raffle' still have no processed my refund. They reckoned they would have done them by now. I wonder if anyone has had their refund...?

Anonymous said...

I'm in the same boat. No refund, no proactive action from the organiser and no response to emails. Do we have to take the legal route to get some action? If everyone that is owed a refund issued proceedings, the court costs would put a fair old dent in the administration fee the organisers retained.

Alun said...

I'm in the same boat, no refund, no replies to emails. If it doesn't come by Friday 22 May I'm going to start a Google group or something similar to try and ascertain are there many of us in the same situation, then we could think about what to do about it.

Anonymous said...

I too have not had a refund and am getting very very frustrated. I am seriously looking at legal action now.

Anonymous said...

In the US I agree with what Fred says, i.e. raffles are usually done with nonprofits. Actually charities do very well out of it house raffles as long as they know how to promote them, in this example the nonprofit finally made a profit pretty much entirely thanks to running house raffles: I'm not familiar with the Cheltenham one you mention though that's UK raffle?

Anonymous said...

The cheltenham house competition :I sent several emails to Tim Bawtree requesting a refund he promissed he would sent a cheque as there was a "problem "
with paypal.To date I have not received my refund.

Anonymous said...

Hi - I'm still waiting for a refund too. In June I got an e-mail from Tim Bawtree saying he had sent it, and copying a paypal ref for someone with the same surname - not me.
Anyone else still out of pocket?