The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Nation & World

March 22, 2013

Florida to probe second sweepstakes chain

(Continued)

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. —

Allied Veterans operated out of about 50 strip-mall Internet cafes scattered throughout the state, which sell customers time online at computer terminals that feature sweepstakes games that simulate slot machines.

Only about 2 percent — about $6 million over four years — of the money raised by cafes affiliated with Allied actually went to assist veterans, according to prosecutors. And most of the money that Allied Veterans took in wasn't listed on its tax forms, as is required.

Though the Children's Cancer Cooperative has reported donating nearly $3 million to cancer hospitals and dozens of other charities, according to an AP review of public records, it is impossible for outsiders to discern through public sources just how much of the total take from the affiliated cafes that represents.

"This is just one more example of why all Internet casinos must be shut down," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who oversees the sweepstakes industry, told the AP this week. "I am ashamed that businesses in Florida are lining their pockets by using veterans and vulnerable children to further their greed."

Out of jail on a $200,000 bond, Mathis said Wednesday he did legal work for Children's Cancer Cooperative, but knows nothing about how much cash the charity got or how it the money was distributed.

"Occasionally they have asked for my advice for operating a legal sweepstakes, which I provided to them," Mathis said. "I had no involvement in what they gave or where they gave it."

Harold T. Dukes Sr., who founded the Children's Cancer Cooperative in South Carolina in 1999, could not be reached for comment.

Records found by the AP show Mathis registered the Children's Cancer Cooperative in Florida in 2009. It has also been active in at least six other states where sweepstakes games are popular — Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and Iowa.

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