Bryony House lottery cleared of violations despite complaint
Dozens of complaints received about Dare to Dream Home Lottery, but minister has no problem with it
The Bryony House Dare to Dream Home Lottery has been cleared of any violations under Nova Scotia's Gaming Control Act regulations.
Mark Furey, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia, said alcohol and gaming officials looked into an official complaint about the lottery, which raised nearly $2.5 million in ticket sales but failed to bring in any money for the charity that shelters abused women.
Furey said the review found there was "no violation of the requirements or the regulations."
The lottery was managed by ALPC Housing Solutions, which is run by Kris Martin and her friend, Maria Sancho.
Martin sold her Waverley home to Bryony House for $1,075,000, to be used as the grand prize in the home lottery. She then bought the house back from the winners for $620,000, a difference of $455,000.
"Certainly the optics of these outcomes would be concerning," Furey said.
"Here's the reality: when a property owner — in this case the winner of a lottery draw — takes legal possession of a property, it's really their decision as to who they sell that to."
Furey said no rules were broken by the home lottery. He added these lotteries are "very risky" because of the nature of ticket sales.
Before the draw, 37 complaints were filed from people who bought tickets but had not received them, according to a Service Nova Scotia spokesperson. After the draw, the failed lottery sparked three unofficial complaints — as well as a formal one.
Ashley Staples is one of the people who bought tickets, but did not receive them. She spent $300 on tickets and the 50/50 draw. She wonders if it's a conflict for gaming officials to look into complaints about a lottery that they also approved.
"I think they could have turned it over to a third party to investigate. I mean, it doesn't really make sense for someone who oversaw the lottery to be investigating themselves," she said.
Staples's frustration with the lottery led her to create a Facebook page to give ticket holders a voice, she says.
She said she would not have purchased tickets had she known that the home had been lived in and was not donated.
Staples is also concerned the lottery did not look into what she feels is a misrepresentation of the grand prize.
Review didn't include financial report
The investigation by officials of the Alcohol and Gaming division of Service Nova Scotia did not include a financial report by Bryony House.
Regulations require financial books to be filed within 90 days of the lottery draw, which happened on Nov. 14, 2014.
Service Nova Scotia said the charity has been granted a 90-day extension in order to settle its dispute over a company management fee to ALPC Housing Solutions.
Sancho said the company is demanding nearly 10 per cent of ticket sales. The ticket sales amounted to almost $2.5 million.
Previously, CBC News has reported that Martin approached the winners of the home about purchasing it. Martin says the winners came to her.
Martin had been publicly stating that she would be interested in buying back the home once the lottery was finished.