Computerized Sweepstakes Games Illegal in California

sweepstakesComputerized “sweepstakes” games offered at special Internet cafes are the equivalent of slot machines that are illegal under state law, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The court said the sweepstakes are games of chance because customers have no way to influence the unpredictable outcome.

“When the user, by some means (here swiping a card or entering a number), causes the machine to operate, and then plays a game to learn the outcome, which is governed by chance, the user is playing a slot machine,” Associate Justice Ming Chin wrote for the court.

The state last year explicitly banned such sweepstakes games. Authorities had been trying to crack down on the businesses that ran them, equating them to gambling dens that contributed to vices such as drugs and prostitution.

“The court’s ruling reinforced what we were trying to do with (the ban), which was to say that these are illegal gambling facilities,” said Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, who authored the bill banning the sweepstakes games.

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