Can Pay To Enter Prize Draws Be Fixed?

UKGC Raffles

Can Pay To Enter Prize Draws Be Fixed?

Pay to enter prize draw sites – also known as raffle sites – have become a regular fixture within the comping world. Even more so in recent months as more and more sites are starting to throw in the occasional free prize draw. These draws aim to reward regular players and/or attract new ones. As a listing site we’re happy to include these sites but limit the number of active competitions a promoter may include and we also offer users the option to not see them. The pay to enter prize draw sector is quite large and there are new sites popping up almost weekly. The reason for this is because they’re fairly easy to set up, there’s no regulations and the rewards can be big. For example Bounty Competitions who will turn 4 this year we soon be giving away £1million guaranteed. Many compers have doubts over this area of comping and with fair reason. There are still plenty of free to enter giveaways online plus can you really trust these sites to be shooting straight dice? In our opinion, transparency is key in the raffle world. You need to be able to review entry lists, the number of entries made and have a live draw showing that winners have been picked without any interference. Of the many sites we’ve seen most do this.

Numerous Raffle Sites

What follows in this blog we must stress is only something we spotted on one pay to enter site. However that site’s activity is useful to learn from especially if you seek out newer pay to enter prize draw sites. For now we’re choosing not to name them outright. All we’ll say is that avoid a site who’s first word is a popular daytime numbers and letters quiz show on Channel 4. So what alerted us to look at this particular site? After all there are numerous raffle sites. Loquax has been involved in win a house competitions for almost seven years now. In that time raffle sites have crossed into the sector and we think we’ve picked up a few snippets on how things work. Established sites with huge social media audiences can often be seen offering huge cash prizes whilst new kids on the block have to work for their audience by offering smaller prizes. When a new site crops and posts that they have £100K or £200K to be won then this makes us a little bit suspicious. We immediately start to look for evidence of previous winners, entry lists, social media followings and social media engagements. We also look to see if the company is registered and if so the background. We might even check out any previous incarnations the site has had in the past.

Red Flags

So last week one promoter posted their big money pay to enter prize draw on Loquax. They’d previously posted a couple of smaller prizes so this was a bit of a jump but it was left on site. When we followed the link no tickets had been sold but a mental note was made to check back. This was a big cash prize for an unknown site. Expediating the checks was that the owner decided to add more listings that offered other cash prizes. Our terms for raffle sites is a maximum of three actives and that had been broken. A further free to enter draw also got added to the listings. At this point red flags were flying everywhere. New sites that break our rules tend to do so because they believe that we’re suddenly going to kickstart their sales. It doesn’t occur to them that most compers would much prefer a freebie than stump up £10 to enter a draw. So we started to look at the site in question. Firstly we couldn’t see any evidence of ownership. It had had a previous incarnation and we know of another site associated with it (apologies for the lack of detail but hopefully you understand why). Company house records show that the limited company was dissolved for the previous incarnation. When we looked on social media the number of followers was small and in our view, at least with respect to Instagram, had been bought. Engagement on posts is negligible. All these alone were a concern but not as much as the 56000+ tickets that the site was claiming had been sold for their big money draw.

Fudging Ticket Sales

This is where things get very interesting. Could they really have sold 56,000 (£112,000 revenue) in a matter of hours/days? Maybe but interest in their other draws wasn’t on the same scale. In fact based on their social activity it was pretty unlikely. McKinney, Bounty, Bear etc are huge brands and whilst they’re good, even they don’t see tickets selling that fast. By this point the posts on Loquax had been removed by the way! Over the weekend we started to keep tabs on the site and it’s ticket sales. Most pay to enter prize draw sites will show you the number of tickets sold and the maximum available. All we did was check in every now and then to see how things changed. Below is a table showing the number of reported tickets sold for various prize draws.

We have highlighted positive changes in the number in yellow and a negative drop in numbers in blue. Firstly there’s not been any tickets sold for nine of the prize draws. You’d have thought that a site that can shift 56,000 tickets would be seeing numerous sales! The free to enter prize draw saw a huge increase in entries in just a two hour period, but then no change until first thing Monday. The holiday prize draw, which incidentally is the first due to close, had an intriguing ride. A nice jump on Friday evening, sold out by Saturday morning, back down again on Sunday night and sold out again on Monday. And the same for one of the Electrical prizes. A jump of 600 sales followed by one of 1300 sales. Surely this site isn’t fudging their figures?

What’s Going On Then?

The evidence above definitely suggests something strange is occurring. A similar free prize draw running on an unrelated brand currently stands at 843 entries. That particular site has almost x25 more Facebook followers and x400 more Instagram followers. Sales on pay to enter prize draws don’t suddenly jump like they do above. For an established brand there’s usually a surge on day of launch, a bit of a lull and then more sales towards the end of the promotion as they work to make sure as many tickets are sold as possible. Sales also tend to occur across all giveaways. Obviously some will be more popular but the above just looks wrong. So what is going on? Well the site in question uses WordPress and Woocommerce’s raffle plug-in. Within that they’re able to alter manually the number of tickets sold. This allows them to make the site appear more active. After all why buy tickets from a site with zero sales and no users when another looks to be thriving. Also entrants might be more tempted to spend money with a site that has prize draws nearing completion and who are also creating winners. It could be that sales aren’t updating in real time but that doesn’t make sense when there are maximum entries involved. It therefore seems that they’re deliberately misleading entrants into thinking that they’re worthy of taking their hard earned cash. That cash should be used to fund the site, marketing and paying for prizes. Now if they’re fudging sale numbers then surely that means they’re not taking in enough revenue? So what about the prizes?

Do They Pick Real Winners?

If you offer a £2000 holiday as a prize, for example, and let’s say sell just £100 of tickets then you’re pretty much out of pocket. But the thing with pay to enter prize draw sites is that – for transparency – they conduct live draws and pick winners. So what is happening in this case? Yes they do conduct live prize draws and yes there are winners announced on site. But the draws aren’t as transparent as they first seem. When we looked the lives are all done showing a computer screen with a voice speaking over. A winner is selected using Google’s Random Number Generator and that’s all you see. There aren’t any entry lists for example. The number is then entered into the wordpress section before the screen switches to the competition page to reveal the winner. That’s “OK transparency” at best but what you don’t see on their socials is evidence of people posting about their wins or pictures of winners with their prizes. Gut instinct suggests that there is some fudging going on in the winner pick area but it’s hard to prove (and this is one reason why we’ve not openly named the site). If a winner is selected who’s a “fudge ticket” then the site just pretends that they’ve given away the prize. They don’t have to payout and therefore keep all (if any) cash from paid entries. If it’s a genuine ticket holder then that’d cost the site money, yet they haven’t got the funds to pay out. So it makes logical sense to question the transparency of winners. To back that up further, if you aim to giveaway £200,000, but fudge ticket sale numbers leaving only 48,000 available then the most revenue that can come in is just £96,000. That’s not going to create you enough money to get the winners you’re claiming. In other words there are red flags flying very high here.

Lessons To Be Learnt

As we said at the start of the blog this is something we’ve spotted on one site so it’s impossible to extrapolate this behaviour across the industry. But we can still learn some useful lessons. The main one is due diligence on any prize draw site you choose to spend on is key. Don’t just rush in and purchase tickets or register your details. Check out their social media, their terms, anything that can give you an idea of what the site is doing. Is it active on social media, do the lives involve real people, are the owners upfront and doing lives, are there pictures or videos of winners, is there interaction on socials. If you’re happy at that point then look at how prize draws are proceeding. Do ticket sales looks good? If only a few tickets have been sold then hold on and see how things progress. Maybe watch sales like we did for a few days and see if everything seems OK. If 56000 tickets suddenly get sold in a short space of time then you might want to watch a bit more. Look at the prizes that are being offered as well. Big prizes like cash, cars and houses aren’t unusual but new sites with no proven record should be viewed with a little more concern. Do the prizes sound too good to be true for such a new site? Have they suddenly jumped from offering £50 prizes to £50,000 prizes? If you’re unsure then save your money for another day as they’ll always be more competitions and prize draws to enter. We would suggest checking out Trustpilot but reviews can be manipulated and it’s only worth looking at the lower ratings for a real insight.


Data was collected between the 17th and 19th February 2024. We checked the site numerous times, across different browsers, devices and locations just to be sure of our data. This article was written between 10am and midday on 19th February – in that time there were further changes including a huge jump of 800 sales on one of the gadget prize draws. The numbers are shown below.

We will continue to keep an eye on this site and maybe return with another blog. In the mean time if you’ve seen something similar on other sites or have concerns then do let us know.


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