Online house auction participants get refund

LOW COST: Janice and Brad Maxwell at the house they had planned to  auction using a new system they devised - the Internal Affairs Department deemed the system 'illegal gambling'.
DON SCOTT/ The Press
LOW COST: Janice and Brad Maxwell at the house they had planned to auction using a new system they devised - the Internal Affairs Department deemed the system 'illegal gambling'.

People who bought tickets to an online house auction that has been deemed illegal are having their money refunded.

Would-be buyers paid $100 to take part in the auction of the Christchurch house, with the house going to the lowest bid between 1 cent and $1000.

However, the Internal Affairs Department yesterday shot down the plans by a couple to sell their house on the internet auction.

The auction would be illegal gambling under the 2003 Gambling Act and people were advised not to take part, gambling compliance manager Debbie Despard advised.

Real estate agent Brad Maxwell has begun refunding prospective buyers who bought tickets.

He said there had been huge public support for the auction, and he was determined to develop a legitimate version, Radio New Zealand reported today.

The four-bedroom house has a rated value of $594,000.

The department said the auction was classed as remote interactive gambling and was therefore illegal.

Gambling with prizes exceeding $500 can be conducted only by societies raising money for charity.

The Trade Me and Premier Realty websites had also been told the auction was illegal, and the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand was being contacted, the department said.

NZPA