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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 3, March 2011, Posted On: 3/3/2011

VA Lawmakers Ban Sweeps Games; Gov. Expected To Sign

Marcus Webb
Virginia Internet cafés, video game, sweepstakes video game, sweepstakes parlor, video poker, gaming machines, sweepstakes games, Bob McDoonnell, Harvey Bryant, Ken Cuccinelli, coin-op news

RICHMOND, VA -- The General Assembly here passed a measure to ban sweepstakes videogames by near unanimous votes on Feb. 24. If signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell as expected, the bill will become Virginia law on July 1.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 1195 admitted that state gambling laws were confusing and open to conflicting interpretations by local district attorneys and local law enforcement.

State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli did not help clarify the situation in 2010 when he issued two separate opinion letters on sweepstakes games. His first letter seemed to imply they are legal; the second suggested sweeps games are largely illegal. | SEE STORY

Internet cafés across Virginia have operated sweepstakes games for the past year, during which time police staged sporadic raids from Roanoke to Virginia Beach. Jurisdictions where Internet cafés have offered the devices also include Caroline, Chesapeake, Chesterfield, Danville, Emporia, Front Royal, Hampton and Petersburg, along with Pittsylvania, Richmond, Spotsylvania and Warren County.

In neighboring North Carolina, lawmakers banned sweepstakes videogames effective Dec. 1, 2010. But rulings by two circuit court judges have protected certain versions of the games in that state. The relevant cases there are under appeal.

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