Latest News

Police to shut down illegal Borough Park area ‘sweepstakes cafes’

By Mason White 3:08 PM November 6, 2013
A Borough Park area sweepstakes cafe 

By: Debbie Gross
Police in Brooklyn, New York, are looking to smoke out illegal “sweepstakes cafes” that are popping up in the Borough Park area.

Local authorities said that new “sweepstakes cafes” are offering cash prizes for customers who play games online.

Officials have ordered local police officers to notify the Office of Organized Crime Control of the NYPD, when they come across these cafes, which have been popping up in Brooklyn and Queens.

Detectives have recently been visiting these cafes to see if they are breaking the law, but the legal line in the sand is blurry.

In some cafes, customers who pay to play Internet games and win, receive additional playing time or long distance telephone cards. That is perfectly legal.

However, some cafes automatically enter their customers into online contests that pay cash prizes, which is illegal.

The “sweepstakes cafes” are a new illegal gambling trend similar to Joker Poker machines or electronic slots, according to a note from the police in New York.

“Many cafes are promising cash prizes for the games,” the statement continued. “We must remain vigilant of illegal gambling on the Internet,” the statement also said.

In May, the City Council approved a bill to allow the Department of Consumer Affairs to pull the licenses of cafes that are caught giving away cash prizes.