TAMPA, FL -- A U.S. District Court here ruled on Aug. 13 that operators will get their day in court to challenge a Florida county's ordinance that bans electronic sweepstakes games on the grounds that they are illegal gambling devices.
In issuing his option, the judge ruled against Hillsborough County officials and the local sheriff's office, which had each moved to throw out the operators' case.
The county commission banned sweepstakes games last December.
In their lawsuit, several sweepstakes videogame operators argued that the ban violates their rights to free speech and equal protection under the First and Fourth amendments, respectively, of the U.S. Constitution.
However, the judge found that some sweepstakes games include at least one key legal element, known as "consideration," that could mean the devices run games that amount to gambling. The judge observed that when customers buy Internet time on a sweepstakes game, and that the number of entries those games receive depends on how much time they buy, this exchange constitutes "consideration."
Consideration is traditionally counted as one of three key elements that are required for gambling to be present. The other two elements are chance outcomes and some form of valuable reward to winners.