Sweepstakes Cafés dodge Gaming Laws

Sweepstakes Cafés dodge Gaming Laws

Casinos usually mean big profits for those who own them, which is why so many businessmen are fascinated with investing in a casino. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that go into owning a casino, such as startup costs, local laws, licensing fees and heavy taxation. But people in the United States may have found a way around all of this with sweepstakes cafés, which are discussed in-depth below.

Playing Sweepstakes, Not Gambling

The concept of casino gaming revolves around a person wagering money on a certain outcome or occurrence. So if somebody puts $1 into a slots game and spins the reels, they’re gambling. And if the $1 bet wins, they would receive a cash prize based on the symbols that show up on the reels.

This sounds vaguely familiar to the games at sweepstakes cafés, a.k.a. internet cafés, which closely resemble slots and also cost money to play. The only difference is that people are buying time on machines, rather than paying for a chance to win more money; any prizes that come as a result of playing the game are merely considered a bonus.

Speaking of prizes, some of the things that people can win include more machine time, internet points, and entries into sweepstakes games. The latter is the primary reason why people play these games because the sweepstakes often give away huge prizes (the sweepstakes entry is determined a winner or loser right away in most cases). Essentially, the sweepstakes entries amount to somebody buying a soft drink at a fast food restaurant, and receiving a scratch-off tab on the drink. Much like with the soft drink, those at sweepstakes cafés are said to be merely buying machine time, rather than paying for a chance to win something.


How Sweepstakes Cafés work

Much like any other internet café, sweepstakes cafés offer visitors internet access, refreshments, and a place to hang out with people. But unlike traditional cyber cafés, the difference is that sweepstakes establishments offer the aforementioned pay-to-play games.

In order to play the games at sweepstakes cafés, people need to buy a prepaid card that enables them to spend a certain amount of time on the machines. Once people pick a machine to play, they swipe the prepaid card and choose the desired game; players can switch games at any time as long as they have minutes left on the card.

In regards to the actual games, these are usually played over an online server, which makes them quite similar to online slots. With this being said, many people are wondering how sweepstakes cafés can operate in countries like the US when they don’t have a gaming license, and/or permission from the government to run internet-based games of this nature.

Legality of Sweepstakes Cafés

Obviously a sweepstakes café is not a full-blown casino, where blackjack, baccarat and poker tables fill the gaming floor. On the other hand, these aren’t exactly your typical internet café, where people go to have a cup of coffee while using their laptop. In fact, the casino gaming element makes many state and local governments throughout the United States feel as if these establishments exist solely to circumvent traditional gambling laws.

In reality though, there is no American law in place that specifically makes sweepstakes cafés illegal. The current gaming practices at these businesses make them a grey area when it comes to the law. Even still, many states are leaving the legality issue up to local governments, which has had consequences for some café owners. Going further, some of the sweepstakes cafés have actually been shut down by city governments after local officials deemed them illegal.

However, it’s worth pointing out that these have been isolated incidents, and the majority of sweepstakes cafés operating throughout the United States have been perfectly fine. Furthermore, they’ve become bustling social centers for people who enjoy gaming with a chance to win a little something in the process. This is especially true of senior citizens, who have given these businesses a big boost.

And it appears as if these seniors and others will be able to continue enjoying sweepstakes cafés for the time being since no definitive legislation is in place.