I have never liked gambling or entered a betting office, and I do not buy lottery tickets. Indeed, the only gambling that I confess to was spending a quarter in a slot machine in Las Vegas many years ago, since my fascination with the technology on display in that fascinating ‘hell on earth’ was a temptation that I could not avoid.
My reasons are simple and based upon the Quaker principles that I have always admired and tried to follow, with varying degrees of success I might add. I have always believed that gambling is similar to currency speculation and dealing in stocks and shares; some people gain at the expense of others who often cannot afford to take a loss. I refuse to bet on dogs and horses too, simply because of the cruelty that is always involved when animals are used and exploited for sport. Few horse racing enthusiasts realise that the beautiful horse that they fondly placed a bet on will end up in a tin of dog food when its racing and stud days are over. My own dealings with an animal charity in the UK that has a focus on rescuing greyhounds that were of no more use on the racetrack, and were simply disposed of, was just one experience that confirmed my belief. No doubt some will dismiss my views as both simplistic and unrealistic, but we all have moral choices and decisions to make in life. Despite my objection to gambling, I was fascinated to read that I had an opportunity to buy a home in Spain for just 5 euros when a flyer dropped through our letterbox last week.
“This is the opportunity to have your dream home in the sun - for only 5 euros” screamed the headline. This was a raffle offering an opportunity to win a fully refurbished home, with 200 square metres of space, two bedrooms, bathroom, storage room, basement, living room, dining room, kitchen and sun terrace. This lovely residence is set in a pretty village, just minutes from the beach and the mountains. How could I, or anyone, refuse such an offer? Upon further investigation, I discovered that there are 70,000 raffle tickets and if all are sold, the owner will earn 350,000 euros, less expenses, which is not a bad return on a property that I suspect is worth considerably less.
The idea is simple, and is a pioneering business in Spain that is dedicated to raffling off unwanted properties. After the recession, there were and still are many unwanted properties in Spain. Some are mortgage foreclosures that have been reclaimed by the banks, whilst others are properties belonging to those whose circumstances in life have changed, such as redundancy, illness, death of a partner or relationship breakdown. Many people feel trapped in their homes, because they have been unable to sell their properties. Traditional buyers of properties often find it difficult to raise the 20 per cent deposit that banks require for a mortgage, and the lottery idea seems to have created new hope for many would-be sellers, as well as potential buyers.
Raffling off properties seems to be a growing trend in parts of the country with buyers participating from all over the world. The lottery company charges for a personalised website, consultancy, raffle publicity and the legalities of the operation. The winner of the lottery takes the house, and all costs associated with changing the name on the deeds are covered by the owner.
It does seem to be an interesting and creative idea, which has gained the approval of the Spanish Housing and Finance Ministries. Maybe it is not a good idea to invest your life savings in buying tickets, but I guess that the odd five euros can do no harm. If any reader has used a lottery to sell their property, or maybe won their home in this way, do please let me know.
© Barrie Mahoney