PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We exposed them for what they are — unlicensed and unregulated gambling parlors — mini casinos.
After KDKA’s reports, the legislature passed a bill banning them and the governor signed it into law.
But a year later — we found that they’re still operating.
When KDKA’s Andy Sheehan asked if one was open:
Employee: “No. What can I help you with?”
Sheehan: “Are you still running the sweepstakes?”
Employee: “I’m not running anything. Get the camera out of here please.”
“Well they gamble,” said patron Dorothy Banks. “You get cards and you can win money and things like that.”
They call themselves internet sweepstakes cafes — they sell you a phone card and the card buys you playing time on a computer. If you win at slots games, you can win cash and prizes. They call that a sweepstakes. State law says it’s illegal gambling but the law hasn’t been enforced.
Will Smith says he was in on playing just two weeks ago – but why doesn’t he just go play at the Rivers Casino?
“Some people don’t want to travel that far when you can play right here,” he said.
The licensed casinos like the Rivers, which supported the ban on the cafes, say the games can’t be trusted because they’re unregulated. And unlike the casinos, the cafes pay no licensing fees or gaming taxes — which fund property tax reductions and public projects.
Our original stories looked at an operation out in Penn Hills — but we found that it’s still in business.
Sheehan: “You still running this thing?”
Employee: “This is internet. We have a sweepstakes. We have phone cards. We sell phone cards.”
Sheehan: “You have a sweepstakes. These places have been declared illegal. They passed a law against them.”
Employee: “You know what? Get out.”
Sheehan: “Excuse me?”
Employee: “This is private property. You’re not allowed in here and I’m not talking.”
Back in East Liberty, patrons like Smith had no idea the cafes are operating outside the law.
They passed a law against them and now they’re illegal, but he’s still operating.
Enforcement of the law is in the hands of the state Police, which apparently haven’t gotten around to it yet. We’ll let you know if and when they do.