Nova Scotia

Bryony House lottery ticket holders questioning prize change

Ticket holders for the Bryony House Dare to Dream Home Lottery are taking a closer look at the fine print and asking questions.
Gordon De Vries bought a ticket for $100 and says he will be requesting a refund. (CBC)

Ticket holders for the Bryony House Dare to Dream Home Lottery are taking a closer look at the fine print and asking questions.

Managers of the lottery were told to send ticket holders notice that the $1.2 million dollar home may not be the top prize after all.

Tickets for the dream home have been sluggish so the lottery managers asked the province's alcohol and gaming authority for an extension to sell more.

It was granted. The department then ordered the lottery to send notice of the extension to all ticket holders.

That notice also contained information stating that if the lottery managers could not provide unencumbered title to the prize home, a cash pay out of $600,000 would be substituted.

The lottery commission says the possible switch has nothing to do with the pace of ticket sales.

Still, it's not sitting well with some ticket holders.

Gordon De Vries bought a ticket for $100 and recently saw an advertisement in the newspaper explaining the change to the prize.

"I'm going to get a refund," he said Tuesday. "I think it's rather unfair. You know, they put the prizes out there, they have great big signs of how much this is worth but if you read the fine print they can actually substitute it for exactly half that amount."

The house was built by Kris Martin and her family, and the plan was to move in when construction was complete. But she changed her mind — and decided to donate her dream house — when she heard about the work Bryony House does providing services and shelter for women and children who are victims of partner violence.

Kris Martin had just built this dream house for her own family, but decided to use it as a prize in a home lottery. (CBC)

A total of 60,000 tickets were available to be sold at $100 each or in packs of three and five. In August, when ticket sales were no more than 15,000, the organizers went to the Alcohol and Gaming Division of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to request an extension for their contest.

John MacDonald, the executive director of the Alcohol and Gaming Division, said the lottery was granted a six-week extension.

"We are watching it," he added.

MacDonald said what has been done by the managers of the lottery is not new.

"That is a standard clause in house lotteries across the country," he said.

"For various reasons if the house may not be able to be awarded, it could burn down prior to the person being awarded the prize. So there is a standard clause out there than an equivalency can be awarded."

The Alcohol and Gaming Division also has strict conditions on the extension to the draw date. The managers of the lottery had to contact each ticket holder to explain the new rules.

"We have received inquiries about whether or not they were allowed to do that," MacDonald said.

"We informed the people that was within the ability of them to come to us and ask for that extension."

There's nothing wrong, he says, with giving away a cash award equal to half the market value of the house as long as everyone has been given a heads up and an opportunity to request a refund.

So far, the Bryony House Dare to Dream Home Lottery has given $3,000 in refunds.

The new draw date is Nov. 14.