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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the basic, easy answer questions and answers. For the real juicy content about this business, read the great articles in the SWEEPTALK section of our site, which address topics such as Letting your customers play from home, Web-based sweepstakes, How sweepstakes companies are paid, and more information about the highly profitable Sweepstakes Totem unit.



1 This looks like gambling to me. How is it legal?

In order for an activity to legally be considered "gambling", it needs to have three elements:

  1. Prize
  2. Chance
  3. Consideration

The prize is, of course, something that you win. Sweepstakes have that. The chance means that there is a random element involved. This, too, is a part of any sweepstakes game. Consideration means that the participant pays directly to enter into the game. Here's the catch… when you play the McDonald's Monopoly game, which is a sweepstakes, you don't buy game pieces. You buy a Big Mac with fries or an order of chicken McNuggets. When you buy the food, you get a free entry into the Monopoly game.

This is exactly how sweepstakes gaming works in the Internet cafe business. The customers don't actually purchase entries into the sweepstakes. They purchase time on the computer (Internet time) or, in some cases, long-distance phone time. When they purchase this "product" they are given free entries into the sweepstakes. Instead of placing game pieces on a Monopoly board they go to the sweepstakes gaming systems to reveal whether or not they have won. Simply put, the sweepstakes machines are our Monopoly game and the Internet or phone time is our cheeseburger. This makes it legal.

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2 How much does it cost to open a sweepstakes business?

The total cost to launch a sweepstakes parlor depends on a number of variables. We've opened businesses with only 1 sweepstakes terminal (a Totem) and others with over 200 gaming systems. As you can imagine, the capital to start these two businesses varied tremendously.

How many sweepstakes terminals do you plan to include in your business? Where are you located, and how much are you paying for your lease or your rent? How much buildout or construction is required to prepare the facility for sweepstakes games?

All of these factors play a role in determining the bottom-line startup cost. Startup costs range from as little as three thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars. Feel free to give us a call and we'll be able to ask you a few questions and then determine a quick startup cost projection for your Internet cafe franchise.

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3 I heard that the government is about to shut this down.

We've been hearing this every day for years. There will ALWAYS be people sitting on the sidelines afraid to get into the Internet sweepstakes business. Our answer is this… there have been people trying to shut this business down for years. And it's still going. And people that got into it years ago are now sitting under a palm tree on a tropical island somewhere enjoying a Piña Colada.

The point is that computer sweepstakes businesses that are done right and using the best sweepstakes software (that's where we come in) pay themselves off in 3-6 months. Is there some risk? Of course. Every new business venture involves risk. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either confused or is trying to sell you something. However: in spite of legal battles across several different states sweepstakes Internet cafes are still growing strong. Entrepreneurs who are willing to accept that small calculated risk are becoming very, very wealthy. Why not you?

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We get this question every day. SweepsCoach has been installing Internet cafes for over a decade with a specific emphasis on sweepstakes promotions since 2005. We have installed, tested, used, and seen the performance of nearly every promotional sweepstakes product on the market. With that in mind, here are a few key guidelines you should watch for.

Key Criteria for Selecting Games:

  1. Are the games web-based? The most robust and powerful sweepstakes games are built upon a web-based platform. This ensures lower costs, easier setup, 100% uptime, instant automatic updates, allows your customers to play the games from home, and can integrate with the highly profitable sweepstakes Totem units.

    WARNING: Some of our competitors would like to offer a web-based sweepstakes solution but haven't figured out how to do it yet. Some even claim that their sweepstakes are web-based when they are not.

    HOW CAN YOU TELL if the games are web-based? One simple way to determine if sweepstakes games are truly web-based is that web-based games allow you to play the games via the web (sounds obvious, huh?) If the games are web-based you should be able to play them right now on your own home computer. Web-based games let you do do THIS (click here to play our games). Non-web-based games will show you pictures of what the games look like. Don't settle for a sweepstakes solution that hasn't upgraded to a web-based technology. If the games are not web-based your customers can't play from home and you will be missing out on a huge revenue opportunity!

  2. How long have the games been around? A dangerous pitfall to avoid is hooking up with some new company that just released their games within the last few years. These guys are looking for naive would-be entrepreneurs to beta test their games for them. Pretty pictures of games can be very misleading. Do the games actually play without crashing? How long has the math model for the games been used? There are a few excellent sweepstakes products on the market. None of them have been around for fewer than 4-5 years.
  3. How many unique games are offered? Many of the new entrants to this industry have only developed about a dozen games or fewer. People like VARIETY and so will your customers. Don't settle for a sweepstakes product that doesn't offer at least 40+ games for people to play.
  4. How is the sweepstakes company charging you? Many "Slick Willie" sales reps in this industry are out to make a quick buck from people who are still learning the ropes. Don't let a used car salesman talk you into buying a lemon! Successful sweepstakes platforms make their money "on the back end". This means that as your store generates profit over time, the sweepstakes company that supplied your games makes money. A very common practice in this business is for shady sales reps to push "proprietary" hardware on you and insist that you pay them a significant amount for it. Don't get schooled by this tactic! Any sweepstakes company that wants you to spend tens of thousands of dollars on their "special" computers before you've earned a penny does not have your best interest in mind. On the contrary; your cost should be extremely low up front because a good sweepstakes platform will make money for the sweepstakes company over the long haul. Beware companies that want you to write them a big check up front!
  5. Play the games! It surprises us that we would even need to say this. We get calls all the time from people who are already running sweepstakes Internet cafes that are struggling because they have bad sweepstakes software and the want to switch. When we ask how they selected the poor-performing games we are shocked to find that frequently they didn't even PLAY the games before they spent a fortune on them. Would you buy a car without test driving it? Another huge advantage of a web-based platform is that it allows you to PLAY the GAMES before you buy them.

The point is that there a lot of things to consider when evaluating which Internet cafe sweepstakes games are the best. Selecting the best games is one of the most critical decisions you will make as you launch your business. Choosing the right Internet Café sweepstakes software can catapult your business to success; choosing the wrong one can put you out of business.

So… how do you decide which sweepstakes games are the best for you? If you contact any of the sweepstakes software companies to ask them which is the best they'll all try to sell you their product. Many of them have never even heard of the various sweepstakes products on the market. At SweepsCoach, we have tested, installed, and used just about every sweepstakes game available and made our choice. What you need is a little honest, unbiased, professional advice. What you need is a coach. We know where you can find one!

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5 What about "leasing" systems and splitting everything 50/50?

It's a sad reality of business that the companies that are experiencing the most success are 1) the busiest, and 2) the least likely to offer "special deals" to attract customers.

At SweepsCoach, we have worked with several different sweepstakes gaming companies. We have only partnered with those that have the very best sweepstakes software. Consequently, most of them have customers lining up to buy their products.

On the other hand… the sweepstakes software companies that are struggling to stay in business are much more likely to offer discounted software and special deals. Otherwise they wouldn't have any business!

One of the most common tricks that some sweepstakes software companies or salesmen employ is to try to get you to let them put in their systems and to split everything. In a deal like this you don't pay anything up front for the sweepstakes machines, but you frequently pay as much as 40 or 50% to the sweepstakes company on an ongoing basis. After paying this exorbitant amount to them, you still have to pay rent, payroll, electric bills, Internet connection, insurance… At the end of the day there's nothing left for you.

We tell our clients that this kind of an agreement is similar to buying a car for $10,000. But instead of paying that money up front you don't have to pay anything! Instead you only have to pay $3,000 each month for the rest of your life. What a deal!

We've watched sadly as several people we know entered into this type of an agreement. In almost every case they've ended up with beat-up, used equipment. Then, after 4-6 months of giving huge amounts of money to the leasing company, they realize that they're working to death and the only ones making money are the sweepstakes software providers. That's about the time they throw in the towel. When this happens, the leasing company comes by with a big U-haul and picks up the sweepstakes computers-only to deliver them to the next poor sucker who's foolish enough to sign a 50/50 split agreement.

The one strong exception to this is when you are placing the sweepstakes terminals in a pre-existing business that is NOT only running sweepstakes promotions. An excellent example of this is a bar that wants one or two sweepstakes kiosks (or Totem units). In this case a 50/50 split or even a 60/40 split makes perfect sense because the business is not relying on revenue generated by sweepstakes promotions for its survival.

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6 How is SweepsCoach different from the other sweepstakes software manufactures?

A few key factors separate SweepsCoach from the other sweepstakes software manufactures in the industry.

First of all, we're the only sweepstakes company that started "on the ground", installing and operating nearly every sweepstakes platform that was developed since the beginnings of the sweepstakes Internet cafe trend. We have used them in locations throughout the US in an effort to find out what makes sweepstakes games successful. Only after extensive in-the-field, live testing did we develop what we believe to be the best sweepstakes platform in existence.

Our sweepstakes platform and our approach to supporting our clients and distributors is tangibly different than anything else we have seen. First let's address the corporate approach to "support", then let's discuss why the SweepsCoach sweepstakes platform (PromoTek sweepstakes) is unique.

When you pick up the phone to call SweepsCoach, your call is answered. Instead of distributing our sweepstakes games through an unorganized and usually ill-informed bunch of sweepstakes distributors running around with cell phones, we have employees sitting in a centralized office to take your calls. Calls come to our corporate office so that you talk to us directly. Instead of getting unprofessional support from a guy on his cell phone with dogs barking and children crying in the background--or no support at all--our friendly staff answer your calls and make sure that your questions get answered and your problems resolved. Call around and you'll see what we're talking about. If you can't get in touch with someone to sell you their sweepstakes software, how tough do you think it will be to get in touch with someone if you have a technical problem?

SweepsCoach is here for you. We support you and we want you to succeed--because if you aren't making money we aren't making money! With many of the sweepstakes companies you will find that the very first conversation revolves around how much you have to pay them. They charge money for the client computers (usually a LOT of money), they charge for the point of sale, they charge for the game server, and sometimes they even charge for installation. Then, once you finally start making money, they tell you that you have to pay them a software licensing fee. It's surprising any startup business can survive such a deal!

SweepsCoach has a different approach. We have programs that allow you to either use your own systems (at no cost), convert unsuccessful sweepstakes games that aren't working (at no cost), or purchase hardware from SweepsCoach at a significant discount.

Furthermore, SweepsCoach and its sister company Stuff About Games have been opening Internet Cafe businesses since the late 90s and sweepstakes Internet cafes since 2005. When we got into the promotional sweepstakes industry we were the only company in this field to even have a website! Since then dozens of less-experienced upstarts have jumped into the fray. SweepsCoach has the experience you can trust.

The next thing, not to be overlooked, that makes SweepsCoach unique is its technology. We have developed a web-based sweepstakes platform that is more stable, easier to install, easier to maintain, and less expensive than the older client-server sweepstakes systems that infest this industry. For more information about this platform, read the answer to the next question!

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7 What's the difference between a Web-Based sweepstakes solution and the older, Client-Server model?

All sweepstakes games require a "game server", which is essentially "the brain" of the system. The Client-Server system requires that this highly technical, very expensive server be located onsite (in your store). However; in the past 10 years most high-tech companies have evolved and improved their technology by moving that server offsite. This Web-Based solution is not easy to develop--which is why there is only ONE sweepstakes platform in existence that has been able to successfully implement it; the PromoTek Sweepstakes gaming platform. The developers of these games were able to achieve this technological breakthrough because they have been designing sweepstakes games since before the year 2,000, while no other sweepstakes product in the US has been in business for even half as long.

Read this article for details, but suffice it to say that the Web-Based sweepstakes solution is less expensive, more powerful, allows immediate automatic updates, enables your customers to play from home if you choose (this is a huge money-maker, by the way), and allows you to check the performance of your business real-time from any web-enabled device (phone, iPad, computer...)

Both the Web-based sweepstakes solution and the older Client-Server system have a "finite pool" that is unique to the business or location. This means that your business has its own set of winners and losers and doesn't share the prize pool with any other locations. Both models accomplish the same thing--one just does it a lot better (and cheaper) than the other. Ten years ago a Client-Server system would have been fine--but times have changed and business owners demand the best! Don't settle for old technology; Web-Based sweepstakes are the way to go!

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8 How much does SweepsCoach charge me for all this help?

We almost left out the best part… you don't pay us anything for our services. Since we don't make money unless and until you make money, you can rest assured that our interests are aligned. We want you to succeed!

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