Oldborough Retreat competition postponed

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Oldborough Retreat competition postponed

After successfully selling out all 46,000 tickets two months early and raising £1.15 million for their Devon property with fishing win a house competition, the Wilshaws have been forced to postpone the final draw. The winner was supposed to be drawn today at random amongst all the correct competition entries, and handed the keys to their £1 million Oldborough Retreat estate in Devon.

However, in what appears to be a last minute turnaround, it seems that the Wilshaws were contacted by the UK's Gambling Commission informing them that their house competition may not comply with the Gambling Act 2005. While they were not stopped from carrying the draw per se, the Commission may have warned them that they faced prosecution if they went ahead. In light of the fact that the it has "a duty in respect of pursuing and prosecuting illegal public lotteries", the couple have therefore decided to postpone the draw to demonstrate to the Commission that the competition did indeed conform to UK law.

It seems that the question they required players to answer correctly before purchasing a £25 ticket ("What is the price of an adult full season coarse fishing licence for 2008/2009?") may not have required them to demonstrate a sufficient degree of skill and judgement. This hinges not only on the fact that the answer could easily be found using any popular search engine, but also that players could find out if their answer was correct before proceeding to purchase a ticket. Amongst other things, they may be required to demonstrate that "a significant majority" of players did not submit a correct answer.

This will no doubt be upsetting to the couple, after a very successful marketing campaign that followed months of trying to sell their home in the conventional way. They will also have to rely on players being prepared to wait for the outcome of the discussions, which could take some time. For the time being, at least, Olborough Retreat will remain the property of the Wilshaws.

We hope that the couple are able to find a prompt resolution to this issue. If they do, the Devon property with fishing competition will likely be considered one of the most successful house competitions run in the UK. At the same time, the conclusions of these discussions will also directly affect other similar house competitions.

Following the success of the Oldborough Retreat competition, dozens of win a house competitions were launched across the country, modelled on the same competition structure. Should the Wilshaws not find a way of convincing the Commission that theirs was legal, this might have negative repercussions for them as well. With so much at stake, we'll make sure we keep you updated on how things progress over the coming weeks and months.


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