An Abbotsford soccer club is refunding ticket sales for its annual lottery.
A statement by the association’s president John Werrell is posted on the club’s website, stating that the board of directors has announced the postponement of the annual lottery due to a licensing issue.
The statement comes in the wake of a complaint filed to the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of the B.C. government against the association, which runs a yearly raffle for a vehicle donated by an Abbotsford dealer. The association formed a partnership with the dealership in 2011, and is now known as the Magnuson Ford Mariners FC (MFMFC).
A spokesperson for the government agency confirmed the matter was referred to the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) following investigation into the complaint.
Sgt. Elly Wright, a spokesperson for the APD, said a fine of $500 for running a raffle without a licence was issued, and the file is now closed.
The online post states the board is “working with the gaming commission to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,” and that “according to the policies of the gaming commission and an unknown timeline regarding the resolution of this issue, we are obliged to refund all monies taken in while tickets were being sold.”
The post indicates the refund process will begin as quickly as possible, and community members can watch the association’s website for more information.
Dan Village, the vice-president technical of the association, said the issue arose from a wrong licence number being issued on the tickets.
“The gaming commission has told us to pull all the tickets back and return all the money to the people because there is an incorrect number on our tickets.”
Village said the draw, which was supposed to take place on March 2, is postponed until the tickets are returned and the association can apply for another licence. Village said the lottery had taken in about $12,000. Last year they realized about $17,500 from their lottery.
“This is a big deal to us. We’ve got a big name community sponsor on it. It’s a nice fundraiser for us and it’s something we rely on to keep youth soccer happening here in Abbotsford. It’s an important thing for us and we’d like to do it correctly,” he said.
Village said the issue seems to be an administrative error.
Former MFMFC general manager Brad Nicholl recently resigned from his position. He declined to comment on the matter, although he stated it had nothing to do with his resignation.
Village said the association is complying with all requests from the gaming commission.
“We’re just about to post a letter up there (to the website) for those who have purchased tickets from us to find a way to refund their money. Once we have that in place we can apply for another licence and go from there.”
The soccer association has about 1,600 to 1,700 players, on teams ranging from ages five to 18. The association is part of the Fraser Valley Youth Soccer Association.