Virginia operator claims his system is legal

A Roanoke, Virginia Internet cafe operator had all the answers for local police who arrived at his business this week with a search warrant following an undercover operation that claimed he was offering illegal internet gambling.

Paul Bennet told police that he is merely selling Internet time, although he runs legal "promotional sweepstakes" to increase sales.

He said customers buy internet time and for every dollar they spend, they are given free entries into his “sweepstakes.“ While they use their internet time, one of the options on the computer is to play casino-like games, but this is simply a clever way to reveal sweepstakes winners.

“They [customers] think they lined up three lemons on the slot machine but that’s not what you did. You pulled a ticket out of the prize pool and then the computer said 'well I’ve got to put out three lemons to show him he won his fifty dollars',” said Bennett.

Police obtained a search warrant after undercover investigators claimed that on several visits to the premises they paid money and played casino games like keno, and won or lost money on different occasions.

“There are video poker, keno, and the rest of them are slot machine games,” said Bennett, reiterating that this is only a way of presenting information on legal sweepstake winnings.

Investigations continue, with police studying seized computer equipment.

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