A couple who promised to raffle off their £3million eco-house caused fury after slashing the first prize to £110,000 in cash and keeping up to £640,000 in ‘running costs’, it emerged today.
Mark Beresford, 61, and his wife Sharon, 57, launched the competition last year and told contestants they would give away their riverside property in Hampshire if they sold 250,000 tickets at £25 each.
But instead they sold just 30,000 – raising £750,000 – not enough to trigger the prize draw for the six bed house in Ringwood on the edge of the New Forest.
In their terms and conditions, the Beresfords stated that in these circumstances the first prize would be cash to the value of 75 per cent of the final ticket sales – but only after their promotion costs were taken out.
The couple maintain they racked up around £450,000 in advertising, marketing, PR and legal bills and were also entitled to keep up to 25 per cent of the ticket sales – about £187,000
The remaining £110,000 from the £750,000 pot was won by Carina Alcock from nearby Christchurch, whose ticket was drawn two days ago.
In the face of criticism, Mr Beresford, a 61-year-old company director who made his money turning around failing businesses, defended the veracity of the draw and the costs they racked up.
He said today: ‘If we charged our time on an hourly rate we would be a little bit above minimum wage’ and threatened to call the police if the reporter did not leave.
Graham Nash, from Poole, Dorset, wrote online today: ‘Would be interested to see the breakdown of the costs’ and Michelle Philpott, from Poole, posted on social media: ‘I think all who entered should be given their money back. £600,000 on promotional costs?’
Mark and Sharon Beresford have been slammed on social media after offering a £110,000 cash prize in a raffle they originally launched to give away their £3million luxury home, pictured. The couple failed to sell enough £25 tickets to make the house giveaway viable but still raised £750,000. But now contestants have vented their fury at the reduced prize, which the couple claim accounts for their legal and promotional costs
The house in Ringwood, Hampshire, is a Huf Haus, meaning it is a distinctive glass and wood property built by the German company of the same name, which can be constructed within days. The couple will keep the house now but are still trying to sell it with a view to moving to East Sussex to be closer to family
Contestants on social media have hit out at the couple and the raffle questioning how the prize can be £110,000 when the Beresfords sold £750,000 in tickets
Others said the figures ‘did not add up’ and branded the competition a ‘disgrace’ following the change in prize
The stunning six-bedroom property has a large sofa in the main living area on the ground floor, with open plan rooms providing a sense of space
The couple, pictured outside the luxury home, have dismissed criticism against them and said the raffle was followed according to laws and regulations
Mr Beresford set up the company Win A Mega Home Ltd as a platform to stage the house raffle.
What are the rules on raffling a home – and what happens if they don’t sell enough tickets?
What is a house raffle and how is it legal?
Raffling off a home is becoming more and more popular with dozens taking place every year in the UK.
For the seller, the idea is to sell enough raffle tickets to cover their asking price – plus cover the cost of running it.
Most set up a website to advertise their competition and charge between £2 and £5 a ticket in order to attract as many entrants as possible – but more expensive properties can be raffled at £25 a ticket.
Once they hit their target total, they then select a lucky winner at random – but the draw must be carried out by a regulated lotto firm not the owner.
Those who want to keep the money gained for themselves must either hold a free prize draw or add a competition element to the raffle.
Competitors should have to prove their skill, knowledge or judgment in order to win the top prize.
Many people get around this by asking an incredibly simple question such as ‘what style of property is this house: A – Victorian, B – Tudor or C – Georgian’ when people pay for their raffle ticket.
Others have run spot the ball games to decide the winner.
How often do house raffles fail?
More and more are failing to hit ticket targets as people become suspicious of them.
In this case the organisers will fall back on their terms and conditions.
These usually allow them to keep 25 per cent of total sales to cover their time. They can also deduct further reasonable running costs such as legal or PR spending.
The remaining money is then given away – but it is always smaller than the value of the home that was up for sale.
The company is legally obliged to file its costings for the competition with Companies House in the near future.
The Gambling Commission said they could not comment on the case today does have the power to levy a fine of up to £5,000 and up to a year in jail for the raffle organiser.
Mr Beresford said in the statement: ‘We made sure everything was legal and above board and satisfied the Gambling Commission.
‘Of course we’re disappointed that the house hasn’t been won as we want to move to Sussex to be near family.
‘When we called the winner, they were overcome and we’re so happy for them and can’t wait to present them with the money.’
The woman who won the money has not been identified while those who lost are furious and demanding to see proof that the raffle cost them that much to run.
Rebecca Gleaves, from Bournemouth, said: ‘It might be legal but that doesn’t make it okay morally’ while Richard Reddington, from London, added: ‘I will never enter another competition like this again.’
A statement on the company’s website said the raffle and cash prize draw was approved and audited by the Gambling Commission.
The Beresfords’ Twitter handle @WinAMegaHome has been deleted in the face of an stinging criticism from users.
The draw was made by a random number selector computer at Sterling Lottery Management, which is approved and audited by the Gambling Commission.
It selected 100 tickets and local MP Christopher Chope drew the winner from that number.
An independent solicitor was also present at the time to oversee the procedure.
The Beresfords decided to launch the raffle after several offers for their Huf Haus-style home called Avon Place home fell through.
The couple had even received interest from an England international footballer but had been unable to find a buyer.
The couple still intend to sell the home as they are planning to move to East Sussex to be nearer their family after their three grown-up children moved out.
However, they will now do so through more conventional means by listing it on the market.
Despite being unable to sell their home through the raffle, the couple said they don’t regret their decision.
The Beresfords property, Avon Place, is set in around an acre of private grounds and offers 7,000 sq ft of open plan living with views over the River Avon (pictured) and Avon Valley
Despite throwing in a £160,000 Aston Martin as a second prize, (pictured) the couple only sold 30,000 tickets, generating £750,000 – a quarter of the value of the six bed home – and the car is said to be staying with them too
Mr Beresford, pictured with his wife in one of the property’s many sitting rooms, said: ‘Of course it’s disappointing not to be handing over the house to the winner, but we gave it our best shot’
They also denied any wrongdoing and said they had complied with both competition rules and relevant laws.
FACT BOX TITLE
Mr Beresford, a company director, said: ‘We fully complied with all of the competition rules and relevant laws in order to launch the competition.
‘We calculated the prize exactly as described in the terms and conditions, which all entrants had to accept.
‘We have spent huge sums of money on advertising that failed to cover its costs.
‘The costs incurred were very high and began in 2016 with extensive legal advice and opinions about the interpretation of the rules covering prize draw competitions.
‘By the time the competition was launched, costs were already into six figures – to do this properly is neither cheap nor for the faint of heart.
‘We will file our accounts in line with statutory requirements.’
Back to square one!’: Retired couple’s plan to raffle £500,000 four-bed home with heated outdoor pool for just £10 a ticket is WRECKED by gambling laws
A retired couple who offered the chance to win their £500,000 four-bedroom home and swimming pool with a £10 raffle ticket have had to close the competition with ‘sincere regret and upset’.
Robert and Avril Smith announced last year that they were hoping to sell 60,000 of the £10 tickets giving the public a chance to win their home in Grosmont, North Yorkshire.
The winner was due to be drawn on Thursday, but Mr and Mrs Smith said they are ‘back to square one’ after being told by the Gambling Commission that it was not a legal prize competition.
Robert and Avril Smith (pictured outside their home in North Yorkshire) have been told that they are not allowed to raffle off their property after the Gambling Commission told the couple that their competition was not legal, forcing them to cancel the fundraising effort
The couple have spoken of their regret at having to cancel a fundraiser for Cancer Research after gambling laws intervened to scupper their charity effort (pictured: the interior of the property’s lobby)
The house – which boasts this huge swimming pool – was put on the market by the couple in the hope that Avril Smith could help raise money to fight cancer, a disease that she has battled herself
The Gambling Commission says that the raffle off the house (which features this spacious bedroom) was not in line with gaming legislation
In a post on the website set up by the couple to administer the competition, they said: ‘It is with sincere regret and upset that this competition has to close.
‘The Gambling Commission has deemed the competition a potential lottery and not a legal prize competition.
‘We understand the disappointment to you all and can only apologise sincerely as well as offer a full refund.’
Last year, Mr and Mrs Smith said the home has an outdoor heated pool, log cabin, orangery and hot tub, but they wanted to move closer to their son in Harrogate.
They also hoped to raise up to £60,000 for Cancer Research UK through the sale.
The couple have been forced to ditch their fundraising plan after the Gambling Commission told them that the raffle was not legal (pictured: the property’s sitting room)
Mrs Smith battled cancer 10 years ago and the couple also lost their daughter three years ago.
Her husband said on the website: ‘As you will have seen, my wife and I have been through a lot over the last three years and it was hoped that this would give us the break we need.
‘Unfortunately, we are back to square one.’
The couple said the decision by the commission was contrary to the legal advice they had been given.
The property in North Yorkshire was intended by its owners to help raise money for Cancer Research, but the plan has been scuppered by the Gambling Commission
This home was on the market for as little as £10 to the lucky raffle winner – but Mr and Mrs Smith have been forced to cancel the competition
They said the house is open to offers in the normal way and ticket refunds can be claimed through the website.
They placed the house on the market two years ago and had serious interest from potential buyers – but Robert had to undergo surgery on his hip and knee and the couple took it off the market.
Their son Matthew came up with the idea of raffling off the property having seen similar enterprises before.
The pair tragically lost their daughter Rachel in November 2015 from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome – which has had a ‘devastating effect’ on their lives.
Avril, who is currently in remission after suffering from cancer, had the idea to donate 10% of the money raised to Cancer Research UK – which could raise a whopping £60,000.