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'Win an Inn' Contest Doesn't End Well

State police investigating after complaints
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 22, 2015 4:45 PM CDT
'Win an Inn' Contest Doesn't End Well
The Center Lovell Inn is seen Friday, June 5, 2015, in Lovell, Maine.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

(Newser) – Maine State Police are investigating whether an innkeeper violated state law in an essay contest with her 210-year-old country inn as the prize. Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said today an investigation was opened into whether the "Win an Inn" contest violated laws governing games of chance. The Boston Globe first reported that some contest losers felt the odds were stacked against them, contending that Center Lovell Inn owner Janice Sage marketed the contest to "dreamers" but instead awarded the prize to a couple with hospitality business experience in the Virgin Islands.

"One of the many allegations against Janice Sage and the contest she sponsored is that the advertising of the contest ... was illegally deceptive and violated consumer-rights regulations, intentionally coercing thousands of people to enter a contest that they never had an actual chance of winning," says the founder of the Center Lovell Contest Fair Practices Commission, a group made up of dozens of unhappy contestants. The entry fee was $125. Sage told the Globe she received fewer than the 7,500 entries she sought, but it was still enough to fund her retirement. (Read more Maine stories.)

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