GAA club's fundraising draw for house falls foul of gambling laws
A Co Down GAA club has been forced to cancel a lottery draw which was offering a brand new house as a prize just three weeks before the keys were due to be handed over.
St Patrick's GAC Mayobridge had launched the ambitious fundraiser last October.
The club said it has now acted on police advice that the draw could have been in breach of current gambling legislation.
The top prize was to have been a three-bedroom semi-detached property in the Bishops Green development in Banbridge.
Anyone who paid a £100 membership fee was in with a chance of a new home, or one of several other prizes, which included a new Honda CRV vehicle, £10,000 in cash or a Mediterranean cruise.
Chairperson of the Friends of Mayobridge GAC Rosemary Magee and club chairperson Mairead Rooney issued a joint statement yesterday.
"It is with huge regret that we need to inform you that our planned A1 House Draw is not going to proceed on 17th August 2019 as advertised," they said.
"Friends of Mayobridge was set up with the specific aim to establish a development fund for the purposes of extending the playing fields and facilities in Mayobridge GAC for the benefit of present and future members.
"The committee has recently received notification from the PSNI that there have been a small number of complaints about the draw arising from the antiquated and unsuitable legislation that currently governs this area, and that they will be compelled to open an investigation if the draw were to continue.
"While we are adamant that the club has at all times acted appropriately, we are saddened to say that we can no longer operate the draw.
"As a member of the Friends of Mayobridge club, we greatly value your support of the club and its charitable endeavours. However, should you wish to rescind your membership, your subscription will be refunded.
"All members will be contacted directly within 14 days."
The PSNI said that over the last number of months they have met with a number of sporting associations in relation to the running of lottery competitions.
"We can also confirm we held discussions recently with Mayobridge GAC in relation to their A1 House Draw," a spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph.
"Our view was that this was a lottery competition with the result that it potentially breached a number of areas of the current legislation, although it is important to note that no formal investigation was ever commenced.
"This has again highlighted that this legislation is in urgent need of updating. However, we recognise that this was a genuine effort to raise funds.
"The Department for Communities have an information leaflet 'The Law on Lotteries in Northern Ireland' and we encourage all those involved in running a lottery to examine this to ensure their competition complies with current legislation."