CENTER LOVELL, Maine - Police are investigating whether an innkeeper violated state law in an essay contest in which her 210-year-old country inn was the prize.

The investigation focuses on whether the "Win an Inn" contest violated state law governing games of chance, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said Monday.

The Boston Globe reported Monday that some contest losers felt the odds were stacked against them. The newly formed Center Lovell Contest Fair Practices Commission says inn owner Janice Sage marketed the contest as open to all regardless of background but awarded the prize to a couple with hospitality business experience in the Virgin Islands.

"In short, Janice Sage was advertising a contest for 'dreamers' who would never have the chance to own an inn and restaurant, and then handed the prize to just such a business owner," Kelley Prass Collins, who founded the group, told the Globe.

Sage didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 68-year-old became owner of the inn the same way -- by winning an essay contest 22 years ago.

The entry fee for her contest 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.

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Prince and Rose Adams were chosen to take over the inn, which has seven guest rooms, two dining rooms, a barn and a wraparound porch overlooking the White Mountains.