PolitiFact: Internet sweepstakes cafes not found to be completely legal

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State Rep. Peter Nehr is at odds with Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats over whether an Internet sweepstakes cafe the lawmaker has opened is against the law.

Nehr’s business, Fun City Sweepstakes, sells phone cards.

But as theSt. Petersburg Timesreported Wednesday, for every $1 a person spends on a card, he or she also gets 100 sweepstakes points to use at one of the business’ 45 desktop computers. The computers can simulate the spinning images of a casino slot machine. You spin, and win, or lose. If you win, you can collect the winnings from the cashier.

Coats says he believes the sweepstakes businesses constitute gambling.

But Nehr, a Republican who represents northern Pinellas and a sliver of Pasco counties, disagrees.

“This is a legitimate business that has been vetted and found to be completely legal in the state,” he told theTimes. “I’m entitled like anyone else to open a legal business to earn money for my family.”

Nehr sounded so sure about his business ?saying that it “has been vetted and found to be completely legal” ?that we wanted to check it out.

Our analysis concludes the law is murkier than Nehr lets on. Continue reading PolitiFact’s ruling here.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.