New law shuts down local Internet business

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FRANKLIN—A new law that expanded the definition of illegal gambling has resulting in the closing of at least one Franklin Internet casino.

Azhar Kahn, owner of Match Point in the Walmart shopping plaza, insists that his business didn’t benefit from gambling, but rather ran a sweepstakes, which he feels is legal.

“It’s not gaming,” he said. “It’s more entertainment.”

Get Connected at Armory Station, which offers gaming for Internet time used, is still in operation, despite the law going into effect on Friday.

“We are planning to stay open until we hear something,” said manager Angie Turner.

The law was introduced to help regulate Internet casino businesses by closing a loophole in Virginia Code by eliminating the word “sweepstakes.”

These businesses were using this loophole to provide the service to customers.

Delegate Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield, said he supports the law because gambling online is easy and it needs to be regulated.

“The goal is to restrict gambling as much as possible,” Barlow said. “It’s not a good thing to have our people gambling their money away.”

Kahn compared his business to lottery scratch-off tickets rather than a casino.

“It’s a sweepstakes because there’s a pre-determined winner,” he said.

Kahn’s business provided Internet service to customers through pre-paid cards. He said it offered fax, copy and Internet services as well as the games. He would like to reopen the business without the gaming.

Turner said the business offers the sweepstakes games as well as Internet services to its customers. She said she had heard about the new law, but she didn’t know how it would impact the business.

The business also documents winnings from some of its customers on a Facebook page.

The phone number to Lucky Café, another similar business on Pretlow Street, has been disconnected.