AGLC to determine if $1.7m creative writing contest constitutes gambling.
There’s a very unique contest going on right now. It’s so extraordinary, it’s begun orbiting the globe. Participants are entering from Alberta, Canada, where the contest began, to as far away as Turkey, China, and Russia. All for the chance to win a luxury home valued at CA$1.7 million.
This isn’t a sweepstakes thought up by some mogul or conglomerate of magazine companies. It’s not a gimmick to lure people into buying time shares. It’s a simple, creative writing contest, launched by a single woman from the small, picturesque town of Millarville, Alberta. Canada.
Creative Writing Contest for $1.7M Home
Meet Mrs. Alla Wagner of Millarville, Alberta. She is an affluent, yet down to earth woman. Due to medical ailments and severe back pain, she’s looking to downsize her multi-story home. She needs something on a single story, for she can no longer traverse the stairs with ease. She attempted to sell the home, putting it on the market for $1.9 million, then reducing the price to $1.7 million.
When that didn’t work, she had a more interesting idea. Perhaps she could make back most, if not all of her investment, and help someone in great need, all at the same time. All she had to do was run a contest to give it away.
First, Alla says she consulted regulators with Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) to see if she needed a raffle license. Based on the framework, she says she was given the go ahead to run the contest without a license, and so she did.
The creative writing contest asks for participants to write an essay explaining why they believe they should be awarded Mrs. Wagner’s luxury home. Whoever writes the essay that draws at her heart strings the most will win.
There’s an entry fee of $25 per contestant to offset the cost of the home. It will take 68,000 entries to make up the asking price of $1.7 million. So far, she has already received well over 10,000 entries.
“I’ve received letters from Russia … letters from Turkey … letters from China,” she told local new reporters. “I’ve received letters from all over the world.” The largest portion does come from Alberta, though, and Mrs. Wagner, who’s been reading 500+ letters per day, says there are so many “heart-wrenching, crushing, crushing stories … I can’t stop crying sometimes, even if they’re happy stories.”
But then this happened…
AGLC Wants Another Look at Contest Rules
The AGLC is no longer certain that Alla Wagner’s contest is legal—at least, not without a raffle license. The same raffle license she says she went to the AGLC to consult about in the first place.
According to the rules of her contest, there is absolutely no element of chance involved. The winner will not be chosen at random, but rather based upon their dire need, and ability to skillfully explicate that need in the form of poetic literature. Therefore, a raffle license should not be required.
Nonetheless, the AGLC’s integrated investigative team will be conducting an extensive review of the contest. If it’s determined that a raffle license is needed, it’s not certain what will happen. AGLC normally issues raffle licenses only to charitable organizations, and while Alla Wagner is certainly performing a charitable deed, and meets the criteria of ‘relief of poverty‘ for the eventual winner, she may have a harder time meeting some of the other licensee requirements.
Someone Comes Along to Spoil It…
One other little snag has arisen, too. Anytime something great is happening, someone always has to come along to spoil it. In this case, it seems Mrs. Wagner’s contest is being spoiled by fraudsters claiming to be her.
In the final days of January, she was forced to contact the RCMP to report the problem. According to reports, individuals have been impersonating Mrs. Wagner in an effort to scam contest participants out of their entry fees. The RCMP is investigating that matter, while the AGLC investigates the contest itself.
One way or another, Alla Wagner says her luxury home in Millarville will go to the most deserving individual. She says submissions will be accepted until April 5, 2019, at which time she will have the option to extend by another month, for up to three additional months. Then, a panel of judges including herself, her neighbors, real estate agents and others who are not familiar with any of the entrants will narrow it down to 500 finalists before Mrs. Wagner selects the winner.