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Wilson, Bolstered by AG's Opinion, Seeks to Make Internet Sweepstakes Games Illegal

Kentucky LRC

A Warren County lawmaker says momentum is building against what’s known as internet sweepstakes games.

Republican Senator Mike Wilson has filed a bill that would outlaw cafes where the games are played.

The cafes sell telephone and internet time, which allows customers to enter online sweepstakes that offer payouts.

The state Attorney General’s office has issued an opinion saying that the games are an illegal lottery.

“They award a prize by chance in return for consideration. While they may appear to offer fair consideration for value received in the form of internet access, the consideration is merely incidental to the game of chance,” said the opinion, written by Assistant Attorney General Matt James. 

Senator Wilson says the cafes already operate as if they realize what they’re doing is against the law.

“If you look at the front (of the cafes), it talks about faxes and copies, and it just looks like an internet cafe-type thing. So they pretty much have disguised themselves, or tried to be pretty nonchalant about it.”

Wilson says cafes offering the internet sweepstakes have popped up Bowling Green, Hopkinsville, and northern Kentucky. He says the cafes are harming groups that offer legal forms of gaming.

“To my understanding, I believe Knights of Columbus has actually closed down because they just didn’t have enough people coming to theirs. And it’s cut American Legion’s by 40 percent of what their normal revenue is on those nights.”

While the Attorney General’s opinion doesn’t carry the weight of law, Wilson hopes it will encourage law enforcement to begin cracking down on the cafes.

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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