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Minnesota's Only Sweepstakes Location Raided; Owner Vows Lawsuit

by Staff Reporter
Posted On: 8/14/2012

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Steve Ehlen, Triple Crown Sweepstakes, Minnesota Sweeps, electronic sweepstakes, sweepstakes video game, amusement business

ST. CLOUD, MN -- Steve Ehlen, majority owner of Triple Crown Sweepstakes here, said he will sue the state following an Aug. 9 raid of his establishment. Ehlen's store, also known as Minnesota Sweeps, is believed to be the state's first, and so far only, sweepstakes videogame venue.

Local police joined officers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division to execute a search warrant at the location two weeks after it opened. Police seized sweepstakes machines, which they allege are illegal gambling devices.

Several days before he opened for business, Ehlen had been warned that the state considers sweepstakes videogames to be illegal, officials said. The case is being referred to the Stearns County Attorney for possible criminal charges. | SEE STATEMENT

Prior to the raid, Ehlen told local press outlets that he'd done is his legal homework that that Triple Crown was a legal operation. He also said that 5% of revenues are donated to the Omaha, Nebraska based charity Kids Against Hunger, a claim verified by The St. Cloud Times newspaper.

Ehlen also told the paper that he would welcome a raid and that if one came, he would respond with "a heck of a lawsuit."

The paper said that Triple Crown's parent firm is based in Ft. Worth, TX, and uses software supplied by Hest Technologies, another Texas-based sweepstakes game manufacturer headquartered in Haltom City.

Minnesota recently legalized electronic pull-tabs; that market is expected to launch later this year or next year. | SEE STORY