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Issue Date: Vol. 52, No. 11, November 2012, Posted On: 10/25/2012

Operators Mount Legal Challenges To Sweepstakes Videogame Bans In Maryland, South Carolina

by Staff Reporter
TAGS: sweepstakes videogames, BBB Management Inc., sweepstakes cease-and-desist letters, videogame operators, gambling device, gameroom, Pat McDonough, sweepstake game ban, Maryland Amusement and Music Operators Association, Larry Bershtein, Capitol Amusement Co., State Law Enforcement Division, Reggie Lloyd

BALTIMORE, MD and MYRTLE BEACH, SC -- Operators of sweepstakes videogames in two Eastern Seaboard states have filed lawsuits designed to block government prohibition of their equipment.

In Baltimore, BBB Management Inc. filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the city on Oct. 1, some two weeks after Baltimore police issued cease-and-desist letters to an unknown number of videogame operators. City attorneys have charged that electronic sweepstakes games are thinly disguised gambling devices.

BBB Management operates a gameroom with 111 sweepstakes terminals, according to a story in the Baltimore Sun. Previously, city officials had tolerated sweepstakes games; a 2010 city ordinance requires operators to pay a special tax on "simulated slots."

State delegate Pat McDonough (R-Baltimore County) said sweepstakes venues are "reproducing like rabbits" and called for a new law banning them.

The Maryland Amusement and Music Operators Association is also opposed to sweepstakes games because they are unfair competition for traditional, regulated amusement devices, president Larry Bershtein of Capitol Amusement Co. (Laurel, MD) told the Sun.

In Columbia, SC, an injunction was filed on Oct. 15 against the state Attorney General's office and the State Law Enforcement Division, seeking to prevent police from seizing sweepstakes games.

The plaintiffs are seven sweeps operators, four of whom were previously arrested on gambling charges in connection with the machines. Former SLED director Reggie Lloyd is acting as the group's spokesman. The operators have complained that when police raid sweeps locations, they not only seize the game machines but everything from rugs to cars.

Several pending lawsuits have been filed by other interests challenging South Carolina's campaign against sweeps games, said the Associated Press.

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