Tired of waiting on state legislators, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said he will work with local law enforcement to take legal action to shut down Internet cafes statewide. This comes after the chairman for the State Government Oversight & Reform Committee indicated he hopes to pass legislation by the end of 2014. DeWine is relying on a recent Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals decision where a three-judge panel ruled that three Cleveland Internet cafes were guilty of illegal gambling. No word on how or when DeWine would begin his crackdown.
Attorneys for VS2 Worldwide Communications, a company that sells software for sweepstakes games, say DeWine has no legal ground to stand on. They point to HB 386, signed by Governor Kasich in June 2012, which, among its provisions, placed a moratorium on all new Internet cafes through end of June 2013. They argue that HB 386 allows existing Internet cafes to remain open as long as they register with the attorney general’s office. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Russo agreed last year, when she issued a temporary restraining order, stating that HB 386 ‘legalized’ Internet cafes. In 2009, a Toledo judge also ruled in favor of Internet cafes. DeWine counters that HB 386 merely prevents new Internet cafes from opening and that there are no provisions that make something illegal legal.
Meanwhile members of the Permanent Joint Committee on Gaming and Wagering held their first meeting, at the Hollywood Columbus casino. The meeting was a fact finding mission on the bigger picture of gambling in Ohio. Committee members got a behind the scenes tour of the casino during their two hour visit.