Gambling Commission Voices Concern Over UK Property Raffles

A new trend has emerged, where homeowners are raffling their properties instead of selling via more traditional methods. Some have exhausted options to reach the asking price, some are desperate for a quick sale, while others just want a more innovative way to sell their property.

Earlier this year, after local estate agents failed to sell his home, a man in Lancashire sold his property for a staggering £900,000 entirely through the sale of 440,000 tickets which were priced at £2 each. Property raffles aren’t a UK phenomenon. In 2016 an Australian couple raffled off their tropical 16-room resort on the remote Micronesian island of Kosrae. People worldwide entered at $49 a pop and over 75,000 tickets were sold. You do the math.

Back to the UK, where yesterday the Gambling Commission voiced concern that some property raffles could be illegal lotteries. How lotteries can be run and who can run them is regulated by the Gambling Commission. Within gambling law there are eight categories of lottery, and crucially they cannot be operated for commercial or private gain.

It’s not the first time the Gambling Commission has gone public on this matter. Back in 2008, it stopped a Devonshire couple who had already sold 46,000 tickets at £25 each shortly before they were due to draw a winner. In May 2017, a South London woman aimed to sell 750,000 tickets at £5 each via PayPal to raise £3.75m for her home. However, her local council intervened to halt the raffle as potentially it was an illegal lottery. Furthermore, PayPal has subsequently stated it will no longer take payments for this kind of activity.

Cliff Young, the Gambling Commission’s lotteries expert stated: “Our role is to monitor the boundary between lotteries, competitions and free draws to make sure people who organise lotteries operate lawfully, and if necessary, are properly licensed.

“We really don’t want to see members of the public unintentionally getting caught out by the law and potentially landing themselves in legal trouble by running an illegal lottery,” he added.

Anybody thinking of holding such a competition should seek appropriate legal advice before proceeding. Get in touch if you’d like guidance.

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