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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 10, October 2011, Posted On: 10/11/2011

Indiana, Florida Move Closer To Sweepstakes Video Ban

Marcus Webb
Internet sweepstakes game, Internet cafe, Florida sweepstakes law, Indiana sweepstakes law, sweepstakes video game, electronic devices for sweepstakes, Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, Electronic Machines and Devices for Sweepstakes Prohibited Act, HB 217, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Erik Fresen

INDIANAPOLIS, IN and TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Indiana has adopted new policies designed to eliminate sweepstakes videogames through regulation and police enforcement. In Florida, a state senator and representative say they will modify a pending bill to do the same thing legislatively.

On Sept. 29, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission issued a notice to all licensed alcohol retailers that Internet sweepstakes games are illegal gambling devices that must be removed from their premises.

The commission warned that state excise police have the power to remove sweepstakes games and fine the businesses that own, operate or host them. Excise police said they would begin issuing warnings on Oct. 15.

The move came just a few days after the Indianapolis Journal Gazette reported that electronic sweepstakes games were beginning to expand into bars, taverns, restaurants and convenience stores throughout the state.

Indiana permits Type II gaming (pull tabs, punch boards or tip-board games).

The paper said sweeps videos are distributed in northeastern Indiana by Promo Games Sweepstakes. The company launched in Europe in 2000 and opened an office in Florida last year.

In Florida, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale) and Rep. Erik Fresen (R-Miami) said they will introduce a bill in the state Legislature to legalize casino gambling in Miami-Dade and Broward counties but shut down most Internet cafés.

Bogandoff told local press outlets that the bill would exempt an estimated 37 veterans halls that have statutory authority to operate sweeps games. A registered nonprofit group called Allied Veterans of the World is a prominent sweepstakes operator in Florida.

The Bogandoff-Fresen bill will be the second proposed measure to ban sweeps games in Florida. Earlier this year, state Rep. Scott Plakon (R-Longwood) and Sen. Steve Oelrich (R-Gainesville) introduced Electronic Machines and Devices for Sweepstakes Prohibited Act (HB 217). | SEE STORY

That bill was tabled in the last session of the Legislature, but the sponsors have reintroduced it for the 2012 session.

Staffers for the Florida House of Representatives prepared a report on the state's gambling and game market that estimated up to 1,000 Internet cafés may be operating in the Sunshine State. Some observers have estimated that sweepstakes games are a $1 billion business in Florida.

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