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Sweepstakes: Arrests In Hawaii, Debate Continues In Ohio

Posted On: 2/19/2013

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TAGS: Internet sweepstakes parlor, Hawaii sweepstakes games, Ohio sweepstakes game, sweepstakes video game, sweepstakes enforcement, Mike DeWine

In Honolulu, police on Feb. 14 arrested six people and seized 22 machines during raids on several Internet sweepstakes videogame locations.

Six of those arrested were location employees who were subsequently charged with 72 counts of felony and misdemeanor gambling charges. According to Hawaii News Now, it was the third raid in less than five months.

Vending Times reported last year that sweepstakes videogames were mushrooming in Hawaii and that state officials had called for a tough crackdown on the controversial devices. | SEE STORY

In Ohio, Attorney General Mike DeWine strongly supports House Bill 7, which proposes a ban on sweepstakes videogames. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), had its first hearing on Feb. 13.

DeWine testified at the hearing that he can "guarantee" Internet sweepstakes locations are fronts for money laundering and other criminal activities. He says the current laws governing sweepstakes games are so ambiguous that law enforcement action against the sector would almost certainly result in lengthy and highly expensive lawsuits, according to The Daily Briefing.

Lobbying against HB 7 is a group of Tea Party activists, conservatives and pro-business forces calling itself the Ohio Liberty Coalition. The coalition's website urges citizens to contact their state representatives to voice opposition to any ban.

In Cleveland last December, sweepstakes café owners and employees rallied at a protest against an earlier proposal seeking to ban the games.

Ohio has 820 registered locations running sweepstakes videogames. Supporters estimate the sector supports as many as 4,000 jobs.