Internet Sweepstake cafes have been popping up in towns all over America and they can easily be mistaken for slot machine gambling lounges, but what actually are they?
How does it work?
Unlike the traditional slot machine, players do not directly deposit money into the sweepstakes machine. Players who enter one of the cafes purchase internet time, which gives them free entries into the sweepstakes games, or sweepstakes points, depending on the cafe. There is a variety of games to choose from, and different games will require a different number of entries or points. Players play the games to reveal whether or not they have won a prize. Players may also opt out of the games and have the computer simply reveal whether or not they have won a prize.
Is it legal?
The most important difference between playing at an Internet Sweepstakes Cafe and a Casino is that there is no skill required, and it is not classified as a game of chance. Your skill at poker will not affect whether or not you get a prize. And unlike slot machines, there is no chance. Slot machines are set to pay out a certain percentage of the money they make, with no restrictions on how much, or how often. Internet Sweepstakes Cafes have sweepstakes periods where there is a predetermined number of prizes for predetermined amounts. When all the prizes have been won in a specific period, a new sweepstakes period begins.
This is a point of much controversy, as many people believe it is still gambling. Sweepstakes are offered in stores, workplaces, and restaurants all the time. These different sweepstakes do not make a profit they are simply a way of drawing in customers attention via giveaways. Internet Sweepstakes Cafes earn a profit and because they are not considered gambling they are not regulated to ensure fair odds.
Is it a scam?
Internet Sweepstakes Cafes deliberately skirt the banning of gambling in certain states, by both definition of gambling and the fact that the games are hosted online. Online gambling is not banned in the same way that video machine gambling is. But this careful sidestepping of the law does not make Internet Sweepstakes Cafes a scam. As always, when it comes to their money consumers should be very cautious. While the business is lucrative and popular, there will always be people who take advantage of others. Internet Sweepstakes Cafes can be found in even the poorest of neighborhoods, preying on the hopes of people who need the money desperately.
When it comes to any form of gambling, players should not bet more than they can afford to lose. There is no guaranteed payout or easy win. Internet Sweepstakes Cafes are not regulated, and there have been instances where obscure rules or out of just plain greed winners were not paid out their full winnings.