Sweepstakes arcades: Vegas style gaming in Hawaii

Winner’z Zone, on Ward Avenue, is billed as the place to be for entertainment with the excitement of winning.

The shop is one of the latest sweepstakes arcades on Oahu offering customers a chance to win cash prizes up to $5,000, no purchase necessary.

"I guess the burning question is are they legal? Its 100% legal," says Winner’z Zone General Manager Steve Ohira.

Bright, flashy casino like games including poker, keno and bingo can all be played on a touch screen.

"As you know and everyone else knows people from Hawaii like to play cards and gamble so the legal way to do it is sweepstakes," says Ohira.

This is how it works. The sweepstakes games are designed to promote and advertise consumer products sold online. Players, 18 years of age or older, have two options: they can either insert their own money into a sweepstakes terminal or ask for a free coupon to be redeemed at a later date. Once you print out a coupon you can buy products or play a game. Purchases will not improve chances of winning.

Winnerz Zone Attorney Matthew Matsunaga explains why Hawaii’s gambling laws don’t apply.

"In Hawaii there’s three requirements in order for a game to be illegal. Those three requirements are: you have to pay money, there’s a game of chance, and there’s a payout. And what these games do is they eliminate that first element, there’s no requirement to pay money in order to play," says Matsunaga.

There are similar shops in other states. Some jurisdictions have forced them to close. Others determined they do not violate gambling laws.

The Honolulu Police Department and FBI are aware of these businesses, but have no comment on the underlying legality.

Matsunaga likens it to the famous "Monopoly" promotion at McDonald’s.

"It’s similar to the McDonald’s Monopoly games that you’ve seen, that if someone wants a free entry to play they’re allowed to have one," he says.

Brianne Randle sat down to give it a try. After a few rounds, she was a winner. She won $5 at one machine and $1.25 at another.

"When you are ready to cash out you hit the ticket button and take it to the cashier window," says Ohira.

The Winner’z Zone website says other recent winners have walked away with hundreds of dollars. One winner at their Pearl City location won $2,500.

There are also various other games to play at the shop.

"This is our monopoly game – quarters in quarters out," explains Ohira. "At Dave and Busters you get tickets, which you can redeem for prizes, instead of prizes we have the quarters. Totally legal, very fun."

There are 15 Products Direct Sweepstakes shops on Oahu and 6 more under construction, with plans to expand to the neighbor islands.

See the original article at: KHON2 Local News

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