Ohio targets Internet cafes - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Ohio targets Internet cafes

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The future of internet sweepstakes cafes in Ohio could depend on new legislation moving through the general assembly.

Gaming or gambling, that's been the long-running debate over internet cafes which now number more than 850 in Ohio.

Local governments and police have been waiting for some direction from the state. On a vote of 63-to-30 the Ohio House passed a bill which places strict regulations on the storefront cafes.

"Payouts are limited to no more than $10, so for all intent and purposes it runs them out of business," said State Representative Ron Gerberry.

Boardman, which now has seven internet sweepstakes cafes, took steps this month to implement local regulations.

"December 1st our home rule legislation came into effect and we are actually permitting these places by their machine count," said Boardman Township Administrator Jason Loree.

The Boardman cafes are permitted at $100 per machine and are subject to other local regulations.

Representative Gerberry says he supports Boardman's efforts and that's why he voted against the bill in the house.

"Township officials decided to regulate. They thought that was the direction they wanted to go in and that was the way I voted," Gerberry said.

Attorney General Mike DeWine released a statement saying, "I thank the House of Representatives for taking action on the unregulated gambling taking place at internet cafes across Ohio and he encourages swift passage of the bill in the Senate.

Jason Loree hopes lawmakers will consider what Boardman is doing. "Take our lead and let the locals handle it individually in each community." Loree said.

The Senate could take action on the bill as early as next week.

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