A couple in Yorkshire have been left disappointed after the Gambling Commission declared that the property raffle they had set up must be shut down.

Robert and Avril Smith had set up the competition in 2018 to raffle off their £500,000 house in the North Yorkshire village of Grosmont, with entry costing £10. Over 5,000 people had entered the Smiths’ competition, with part of the proceeds were set to be given to Cancer Research.

However, the Gambling Commission put an end to the raffle because the question the couple asked – “What year did the North Yorkshire Railway open?” – was ‘too easy’. The Commission’s rules state that competitions, such as raffles, that offer valuable prizes like property must be ‘skills-based’.

The Smiths’ competition offered their Ings Bank house as a prize. The property was built in 1875, and includes four bedrooms, an orangery, an open-air swimming pool and a log cabin. The couple were looking to move the house on in order to live nearer their son in Harrogate.

“It is with sincere regret and upset that this competition has to close. We understand the disappointment to you all and can only apologise sincerely as well as offer a full refund,” said the Smiths in a statement on their website.

“The Gambling Commission has deemed the competition a potential lottery and not a legal prize competition. This is despite independent legal advice we obtained to the contrary. It is also after a period of over 4 months of silence from the Commission, despite being told of our competition on 30th July 2018.”

Property raffles on the rise

Examples of property raffles that have failed include a £43,000 property in Durham that did not reach 10,000 ticket sales and was forced to hand out a £7,000 cash prize instead; and a £3.5m Berkshire house offered through a £25 spot-the-ball competition that did not sell enough tickets.

BuyAssociation has rounded up the pros and cons of this increasingly popular property issue.

Although it is hugely tempting, particularly in today’s difficult property market, for homeowner hopefuls to enter such raffles for the chance of winning a home, there are pitfalls and it is vital to thoroughly research each raffle to ensure its legitimacy.