CLEVELAND -- Following extensive investigations, seven sweepstakes videogame businesses in Ohio have been shut down, and 10 individuals have been indicted in connection with those enterprises. No arrests were made, said officials.
The three owners of VS2 Worldwide Communications (Farmingdale, NJ) were indicted. Officials said VS2 supplied software to at least 18 Ohio Internet sweepstakes operations. Revenues from sweeps games are being funneled through an elaborate money-laundering scheme involving various banks, investigators charged.
The probe into Ohio's electronic sweepstakes videogame industry, and the ensuing resulting crackdown, was conducted jointly by the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshal Service, Ohio Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, U.S. Postal Inspector's Office and Parma Heights Police Department.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors said they have issued cease-and-desist letters to 50 more sweepstakes videogame operators in their jurisdiction.
In late May, the Ohio state Legislature approved a one-year ban on new electronic sweepstakes venues.