Boardman proposes regulations on controversial Internet cafes - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Boardman proposes regulations on controversial Internet cafes

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BOARDMAN TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Controversial Internet cafes have popped up all over Boardman Township over the past few years.

Back in April, 21 News confirmed that there were 18 in business in the township, but to date only eight are registered with the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

In July, Governor John Kasich put a moratorium into effect that would keep any new Internet cafes from opening at least for the next year.

What's at issue around the country, state, and here in the Mahoning Valley -is whether these casino style video games are considered part of a sweepstakes or illegal gambling.

Boardman Township trustees hope to pass a resolution, under civil statutes, regulating Internet cafes. The township is a home rule community, and that means it is able to propose and pass resolutions just like any city.

Jason Loree, Boardman Township Administrator, says, "We decided that if you're going to be here in Boardman, now with all the Ohio Revised Code changes, prove to us that you are a sweepstakes rather than the other way around. And in the event that they are found to be illegal at some point down the road, we at least have documentation of everybody involved."

Not only would the Internet cafe operations need to be registered with the Ohio Attorney General's Office, they would also have to be licensed by Boardman Township. That includes testing done by one of several companies to prove that the business is actually operating a sweepstakes operation.

As part of the license the business would have to pay $100 annually on each machine in operation, and they would be required to list the serial number information with the township.

Another requirement, "odds of winning" would have to be posted large enough to easily read, and no one under the age of 18 would be allowed.

"At this point, the township can't do anything in regards to them not being registered. However, what we require on our license is that they show us their attorney general application. If they don't have that, we can actually start the nuisance process," Loree says.

The fines for not complying begin at $250 dollars, and by the fourth violation would cost the business $1,000, and could possibly mean shutting down the business under civil penalties.

Loree says that while the state of Ohio's direction on Internet cafes isn't clear at this point, the township's licensing process will be.

Trustees are having a single reading on the issue on Monday evening and if approved, the Boardman Township regulations on Internet cafes would go into effect in 30 days.

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