After seeking legal advice from the state Attorney General, the gaming division of the Colorado Department of Revenue has issued an opinion that “internet sweepstake cafes” are de facto gambling operations that need to be “authorized by a constitutional amendment” approved by voters, and are therefore presently illegal.
“Because all three elements: consideration, chance, and prize are present, under Colorado law, the activity occurring at sweepstakes cafes in Colorado constitutes illegal gambling,” the opinion argues.
The ball is now in the local law enforcement division’s court, where enforcement chiefs will have to decide on whether to act on the opinion and bring offenders before the courts.
Local experts estimate that there are around 40 such cybercafes in Colorado, all businesses which protest that they are not acting against the law.
The Denver Post reports that moves by operators are nevertheless currently afoot to persuade state lawmakers to introduce legislation regulating this type of activity rather than supporting a blanket enforced ban.
However, a similar attempt last year did not make it out of the legislature’s committee stage.
Cybercafe supporters point out that the state has been a leader in regulating the retailing of marijuana, and that cybercafe operators are willing to submit to similarly strict regulatory requirements in order to continue in business.