‘Internet sweepstakes cafes’ remain illegal

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Despite language being recently added to Isle of Wight County’s zoning ordinance defining “internet sweepstakes cafes” as adult entertainment establishments, such businesses remain illegal under Virginia law.

Internet sweepstakes cafes, according to the added language in the ordinance, are “any principal business enterprise where persons utilize games of chance (including sweepstakes) and where cash, merchandise or other items of value are redeemed or otherwise distributed, whether or not the value of such distribution is determined by electronic games played or by predetermined odds.

This definition includes, but is not limited to, internet sweepstakes, video sweepstakes, electronic gaming operations, internet cafes and/or cybercafes.”

As “adult entertainment establishments” internet sweepstakes cafes are now categorized the same as adult bookstores, adult mini-motion-picture theaters, adult picture theaters, cabarets and drug paraphernalia stores.

According to Don Robertson, assistant county administrator, the internet sweepstakes cafe language was added just in case Virginia chooses to allow such businesses in the future. Robertson said that the county was not aware of any legislation authorizing “games of chance” in Virginia, and that as far as he knew, the only legal forms of gambling were the state lottery and betting on horse races.

Additional exceptions to Virginia’s prohibitions on gambling include games of chance conducted in private residences, bingo games, and raffles or duck races conducted by certain organizations.