Hold it! £1m house draw postponed

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The Independent Online

A prize draw for a £1 million house and fishing retreat was postponed today following legal advice from the Gambling Commission.

Brian and Wendy Wilshaw have sold 46,000 tickets at £25 each for the chance to win their home, the 11-acre Oldborough Fishing Retreat in Morchard Bishop, Devon.

They were due to draw the winner today but a statement on the competition's website said it was postponed for discussions with the Gambling Commission to confirm legal requirements were met.

Last week the commission warned homeowners that such competitions could go against the Gambling Act 2005.

A spokesman said prize competitions are free of statutory control under the Act provided they "require sufficient skill, judgment or knowledge".

Schemes that do not meet such a test of skill are classed as lotteries and cannot be operated for private gain.

The question to win the Oldborough Fishing Retreat was "What is the cost of an adult full season coarse fishing licence for 2008/09?"

The prize is their five-bedroom house, four two-bedroom holiday lodges, 9.5 acres of woodland and a two-acre fishing lake.

Mr and Mrs Wilshaw said they were forced to offer the estate as a prize rather than selling it conventionally because of the downturn in the property market.

In a statement on the competition website, they said: "At this late stage of proceedings, the Gambling Commission have asked for more information on the competition question.

"We have been asked to demonstrate why we believe that our question prevented a significant number of people from participating in the competition, which is the main legal test to decide whether or not the competition is authentic rather than a simple lottery or game of chance.

"We are, of course, frustrated by the timing of their queries and the fact that they have previously made open statements to us and to the national press that the competition was lawful."