SMS car competition may be an illegal ‘lottery’

2008-02-10 00:00

Cape Town — Vodacom clients who have run up debt totalling hundreds of thousands of rands while taking part in a competition to win one of 100 BMWs, may have been taking part in an illegal lottery.

The National Lottery Board has launched an urgent inquiry to determine whether or not the "100 cars in 100 days" competition, with posh BMW 320i cars as prizes, is legal.

Many Vodacom clients have joined the chorus of complaints following reports about Hendrikus Wessels, who sent in SMSs costing R48 000.

One Johannesburg client said he was allowed to send SMSs amounting to R150 000 before his cellphone service was suspended.

Marelize Jackson of Bloemfontein now owes Vodacom about R27 000.

Vodacom subscribers are "invited" to enter the competition at a cost of R10 per SMS.

"Any promotional competition in which the cost of an entry is more than a normal SMS, is illegal," said Sershan Naidoo, a spokesperson for the National Lottery Board.

"If the consumer is paying for the prizes (in this case the BMWs) it constitutes a lottery and it must be legally licensed by the National Lottery Board."

According to the Vodacom website if a user sends a "YEBO" SMS to a certain number, they are automically entered in the daily draw.

Media law specialist Reinhardt Buys said the competition is illegal as the SMS messages encourage multiple entries.

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