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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 8, August 2011, Posted On: 7/27/2011

FL's AG Slams Sweeps Viddies; OH Cities Go Both Ways

Marcus Webb
Pam Bondi, Internet cafés, sweepstakes video games, illegal gambling, legal gambling, Florida sweepstakes games, Ohio sweepstakes games, Massillon Ohio, Brunswick Ohio, sweepstakes cafés, amusement business

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a legal opinion in late July that brands Internet cafés with sweepstakes videogames as illegal gambling operations.

The opinion grew from a controversy over sweepstakes videogames operated at a VFW Post in Bay County. | SEE STORY

In Pinellas and Pasco counties, where two sheriffs recently raided and closed seven Internet sweepstakes cafés between them, the local district attorney said the legal opinion could help strengthen the county governments' cases.

Observers estimate that Florida may support a billion-dollar sweepstakes videogame market.

Beyond profitability, additional evidence of the games' popularity came when around 100 industry supporters lobbied a Pasco County Commissioners meeting, protesting raids on sweepstakes operations there. | SEE STORY

In the country's midsection, sweepstakes videogames remain in a legal gray zone in Ohio. The city of Massillon is moving toward requiring $100 monthly per machine fees for sweepstakes cafés and $1,000 a year licenses for "skill-based arcades" as a means of getting "a cut of the pie," said one city official.

Yet 44 miles north of Massillon, the city of Brunswick is considering an ordinance that would classify any business venue with a computer used for entertainment as a sweepstakes café, apparently as a step toward controlling the market.

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