Whilst doing a Google search we stumbled upon a Trustpilot review for a site called Elite Competitions. What was unusual about the review was that there wasn’t just one new review but several. In fact, at time of writing, we spotted 25 5* reviews had been added in the last 24 hours. They may be genuine but it does look like they’ve been added to push down a couple of negative reviews about the site which recently appeared on Dragon’s Den. Having just caught up with this edition of the show from December we thought we’d take a closer look.
Bernie The Random Ball Machine
Elite Competitions is a ticket based competition site. Think a win a house competition but for prizes such as tech, motorbikes and cars! Each draw has a limited number of tickets and it costs from around £5 to just under £40 to enter a draw. To take part in a prize draw you first pick your choice of prize. You’re then presented with a selection of numbers – select one or more as your entries. Finally, answer a multiple choice “skill” question.
Once these steps are completed it’s simply a case of making a payment. Competitions close when the required number of tickets are sold. The closing dates shown on site are targets, but if not enough tickets are sold then the closing date moves on by a week. When a competition finally closes then you can watch the draw take place live.
The number balls are placed into a lottery style machine, called Bernie, and a winning ball selected. The name of the winner is then revealed. Videos of previous draws are also on the website. We like this particularly feature as it does give the prize draws much needed transparency. The live draws also add an extra bit of excitement to proceedings.
Free Entry Winners
If you’re not a fan of paying to enter then there is a free postal route option. Is it worth a punt? Well one Trustpilot review claims that the company “don’t process free entries”. This allegation is refuted by Elite Competitions who have responded by saying that a Porsche Panamera, Husqvarna TC 1250 and an Apple Iphone X have all been won by free entries. Unfortunately we’ve looked through the Winners Timeline at Elite Competitions and have been unable to figure out the free entry winners.
Perhaps flagging up free entry winners for a pay to enter competition site isn’t the best idea? That aside having looked over the site there are a few things we like and some we don’t. The live draw and Bernie is fabulous and something many free prize draw sites could learn from with respect to transparency. The site even provides a list of entrants in the ‘competition history’.
But, in the FAQ it states “each player can enter any one draw maximum 5 times”. However a quick scan through just one competition history and we spotted a number of entrants with more than 5 entries. Why is that problem if they’re paying for it? Well it demonstrates that either the rules aren’t being adhered to or the FAQ is incorrect. Either way it’s enough to start questioning whether parting with your cash is a good idea.
Is It Skill? Is It Gambling?
Another concern is with respect to the multiple choice question. We think they’re too easy and not “skill” enough. That may not be a problem now, but The UKGC have recently – allegedly – closed down a win a house competition for this very reason. What happens to the site if The UKGC decide that they want to see a more skill based mechanic as used by Best Of The Best?
Finally there’s the question of whether these are competitions or gambling? In our view they drop somewhere into a grey area between the two. If you like free prize draws and competitions then they’re not for you. However, if you don’t mind a flutter on the bingo, lottery or football pools then you may be interested. You are paying cash for the chance to win a prize at X to 1 and put that way it does sound like gambling. Whatever your view of the subject only play if you can afford to pay.
Whether you decide to give Elite Competitions a try is up to you. They did after all attract an offer on Dragon’s Den from Jenny Campbell. That in itself is a feat of nature! Personally we’d opt for the more established BOTB where entries are a lot less, but then you’re relying on skill and judgement to win the big ticket prizes.