How does video "sweepstakes" work?

Here in North Carolina yesterday the state senate passed a ban on video sweepstakes. I see sweepstakes outfits all over the place here, and they’re basically just a thinly veiled form of Internet gambling. I’ve never been in any of these places, but I was wondering how exactly does it work? What was the loophole through which proprietors were able to set up video sweepstakes machines? How much does it typically cost to play?

Basically, you buy units of time to use the Internet. Each unit of time is worth 1 entry into a pre-determined “sweepstake” that looks just like video poker. For example, say you buy $10 worth of Internet time, that would give you 100 sweepstake entries. What you win is more Internet time which can be turned in for cash.

These places are required to give some free sweepstakes entries. “No purchase is necessary to play.”

The people who run the parlors are very careful about the terminology that is used. For example, one doesn’t cash in, they redeem and you will never, ever hear it called gambling.

Interesting. So if I wanted to, I could go into one of these places and demand that they give me some free “sweepstakes” and they would be legally required to oblige?

I’ve never seen one of these machines…or heard of them until now. But my guess is that you would have to send a request in, by mail, to some corporate office and then they would mail you a voucher of some sort to redeem 1 unit of time.

The places I am familiar with will give 100 free credits every 24 hours. Those 100 credits might last 5 minutes.

I have family that runs parlors in Florida and North Carolina.

I notice a lot of these place tout themselves as “Internet Cafes.” So if I wanted to, could I go in there, buy, say, 10 minutes of computer time, and just check my e-mail or Facebook?

Yep, most places also have faxing and copy machines to use.