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Stateline: States battle increase in Internet sweepstakes cafes


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Stateline reports on efforts to shut down Internet sweepstakes cafes across the nation:
More than $10 billion in revenue a year is the incentive to stay in business for these storefronts, numbering in the thousands. For some gamblers, the allure of cybercafe gambling is that the facilities are as near as the local mall or service station.

Customers purchase time on a computer or in some cases, long-distance phone time, and are given free entries into a “sweepstakes.” They then go online and play a game that looks like slots or poker to see if they won.

Some in the gaming industry say this is no different from playing McDonald's Monopoly game, which is a sweepstakes. Customers who buy a Big Mac or chicken McNuggets get a free entry into the game, which offers prizes.

States disagree. States largely allow McDonald’s-like sweepstakes for marketing purposes, but consider many of the Internet sweepstakes cafes as fronts for illegal gambling.

Ohio, Florida and Mississippi passed laws in 2013 banning Internet sweepstakes cafes, and similar bans are pending this year in Connecticut and California. And yet the operations still exist in those states that prohibit it. “It’s foolish for anybody to think they are not going to come back in a different form,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said at a recent gathering of attorney generals in Washington, D.C.

The reason? “There is so much money involved … tremendous amount of money, hundreds of millions of dollars,” DeWine said.

Get the Story:
States Scramble to Stop Illegal Gambling at Internet Sweepstakes Cafes (Stateline 3/24)

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