Judge Rules that ‘Sweepstakes’ Games are in Violation of Gambling Law

Judge Rules that ‘Sweepstakes’ Games are in Violation of Gambling Law

03/8/2011

After a judge ruled yesterday that “sweepstakes” machines violate Ohio law, Franklin County law enforcement officials will ask businesses operating these devices to remove them.

According to the decision rendered by Franklin County Municipal Judge, Harland H. Hale, Spinners Café “recklessly maintained slot machines, gambling devices and distributed schemes of chance.”

Spinners Café is a former restaurant and game parlor located on the West Side.

In his decision, Judge Hale said that the business represented a “civil nuisance.”

The ruling was a victory for Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien and Columbus City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr., who filed the case against Spinners Café way back in December of 2009.

Although Spinners closed in June, the lawsuit remained in place as the Pfeiffer and O’Brien sought a judicial declaration to further define the state gambling laws.

Other businesses that use “sweepstakes” machines will be notified about the decision “and will be given a reasonable opportunity to comply,” O’Brien said. Those will not get rid of their machines risk facing criminal charges, he added.

Pfeiffer also said that he wanted to alert the business entities by sending them letters containing copies of the ruling made by the judge.

Neither prosecutor have any idea how many businesses in Franklin County operate “sweepstakes” machines. However, O’Brien said that there are several “dozens.”

O’Brien also noted that if they did not take any legal action, they fear that “every gas station, carryout and convenience store in the city” would install and operate the machines.

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com