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I've recently come across a website which is offering a competition to win a house.

They claim to be offering a free method of entry but it seems to me to be against the legislation because it costs more to enter for 2 reasons.

  1. They prohibit the use of mechanically reproduced entries - this is essentially asking for payment for labour.
  2. For free entries they ask for each entry to be posted separately - but to enter the draw normally you can make multiple entries at the same time.

It seems to me that these are both illegal requirements and to comply with the law they should allow multiple entries to be made from the same postal delivery.

Otherwise it renders the free method of entry pointless. For example with Omaze the minimum number of 'entries' you can buy is 15. To be equivalent for post you should be able to make that many 'entries' in one postal delivery - requiring it to be split up into 15 different deliveries is a 'special arrangement for delivery ' in contradiction of the legislation.

Have you investigated these companies and come to a conclusion as to their legality or are any investigations in progress.


Thank you for your request which has been processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

In your email you have requested information relating to whether the Gambling Commission has investigated companies running competitions to win houses, and whether any investigations are in progress.

The Commission is a regulatory body with licensing, compliance, and enforcement functions; through our regulatory activity, the Commission aims to protect consumers and the wider public, and to raise standards in the gambling industry.

The ‘Prize competitions for winning a House’ you have described in your request are categorised as prize competitions and free draws and are free from regulation under the Gambling Act 2005 (the Act).

Further information relating to Free draws and prize competitions can be viewed on our website: Free draws and prize competitions - Gambling Commission

These pages explain what does and does not fall within our regulatory remit. The Gambling Commission works within the confines of what the current legislation sets out.

However, our focus is to protect consumers and the wider public, and to raise standards in the gambling industry through targeted action and collecting evidence to inform and influence our disruption and enforcement approach to the illegal gambling market.

Our aim is to deter individuals from engaging in non-compliant and harmful activity.

The Gambling Commission do not provide comment on any information held regarding specific action unless it is in the public interest to do so. As such, we are unable to confirm or deny whether we hold any information within the scope of your request. Section 31(3) of the FOIA (Law Enforcement) exemption applies.

Section 31

Section 31(3) (“Law Enforcement”) provides that the duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that compliance with section 1(1)(a) would or would be likely to, prejudice any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1).

Public interest test

Having acknowledged that the Commission is not able to confirm or deny whether we hold any information within the scope of your request, section 31 of the FOIA requires that we consider a public interest test to identify whether there is a wider public interest in fulfilling this request as opposed to maintaining the exemption.

Arguments in favour of disclosure

  • We acknowledge that there is a legitimate public interest in promoting the accountability and transparency of the Commission.
  • Further to this, it is important that there is sufficient information in the public domain, so consumers have an understanding of the regulatory activity that the Commission is taking with specific operators to enable them to make informed decisions regarding their choice of operator or business.

Arguments in favour of maintaining the exemption

  • Confirming or denying information which makes specific individuals or events identifiable could alert individuals involved to the fact that the Commission was/is or alternatively wasn’t/isn’t investigating a particular case and provide them with an opportunity to alter their behaviours or evade detection. This would result in making it more difficult for the Commission to achieve its strategic aims.
  • Further to this, simply confirming or denying this request for information would impact on the openness of stakeholders when sharing important information with us or other law enforcement agencies.
  • The amount of information released is carefully considered in order to protect the integrity of investigations and individuals or operators from being unfairly associated with unsubstantiated allegations.
  • Finally, only once or if a formal regulatory decision has been made or there is agreement of a regulatory settlement the Commission will ordinarily publish all such decisions in full.
  • Fulfilling this request may prejudice the outcome of any future investigation by the Commission, or another body, to the detriment of the public interest.

Weighing the balance

Given the points considered, disclosure of the information would be damaging to the Commission as a regulatory body which serves to protect the wider public interest. Ultimately, the Commission believes that the interests of the public are better served through maintaining the exemption, therefore we are not in a position to confirm or deny whether we hold any information in relation to your request.

Review of the decision

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your Freedom of Information request you are entitled to an internal review of our decision. You should write to FOI Team, Gambling Commission, 4th floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4BP or by reply to this email.

Please note, internal review requests should be made within 40 working days of the initial response. Requests made outside this timeframe will not be processed.

If you are not content with the outcome of our review, you may then apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have already exhausted the review procedure provided by the Gambling Commission.

The ICO can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office (opens in a new tab), Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Information Management Team
Gambling Commission
Victoria Square House
Victoria Square
Birmingham B2 4BP

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