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"Internet Sweepstakes: Online Gambling or Harmless Promotion?"

Sweepstakes arrive on Internet!

Sweepstakes games have arrived on the Internet just like all other forms of online gambling. And the popularity of these gambling sites is meteoric. Internet gambling is illegal in the U.S. and there are those who argue that online sweepstakes are just another form of online gambling. A case in point is the state of Wyoming, which is split on whether sweepstakes should be legal. Wyoming is presently one of only eight states offering online sweepstakes games, but Wyoming’s Attorney General believes it is just another form of gambling and, therefore, illegal and should not be permitted.

The sweepstakes games are offered by phone card companies as a promotional gimmick to enhance sales of phone cards. These companies offer customers the chance to play sweepstakes games whenever they purchase an Internet combo package at an Internet café. The package includes a phone card, Internet time and sweepstakes points.

The sweepstakes games themselves are very similar to the games offered at online gambling sites. Sweepstakes operators, however, are quick to try and differentiate their games from regular gambling activities.

The points that the phone card company gives can only be used to play sweepstakes games at the cafe in which they were purchased and are not redeemable for cash. Additional sweepstakes points earned are redeemable for cash or prizes. This is why Wyoming’s Attorney General believes that playing sweepstakes is basically a gambling activity.

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