Lacking any state guidance, local governments continue their efforts to stall or prevent the operation of these cafes. What started out as a northeast Ohio phenomenon has now spread across the state.
In Franklin County, Judge Harland Hale has ruled that ‘sweepstakes machines’ violate Ohio’s gambling law. This has paved the way for local law enforcement officials to order businesses begin removing these machines.
In Summit County, an ordinance passed last May that regulated Internet cafes, sweepstakes parlors and skill arcades, has been amended. Among the amendments:
- Businesses no longer have to provide a certificate indicating they are in compliance with the state’s gambling law. Instead, they must provide a certificate indicating the devices are either a skill-based amusement machine or a sweepstakes game;
- Establishments can remain open until 2am on Friday and Saturday. Midnight was the original closing time;
- Businesses will be permitted to get photo identification of anyone who wins more than $600. The original threshold was $10;
- Liability insurance language, which was declared unconstitutional by a common pleas judge last month, was removed.
Other local governments continue to ponder and tweak. West Carrollton, Springfield, West Chester and Liberty Township have all passed temporary moratoriums on these type businesses so they can further determine if they are legal or not. There are now over 20 townships and cities that have these moratoriums in place. Centerville and Springboro are considering similar moratoriums and Athens is looking at regulating Internet cafes. Going against recent activity, North Ridgeville is contemplating a loosening of their regulations which have been on the books since last September.