Veterans groups and churches that run bingo games need state approval. Ditto the four casinos currently under construction around Ohio, which will be closely regulated and scrutinized by the state.
So why should an estimated 200 “Internet cafes” that are effectively offering gambling in Ohio today be able to operate without oversight?
Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General, is calling on state lawmakers to approve a bill, pending since April, which would regulate these businesses that have been springing up around central Ohio and other parts of the state.
DeWine says they’ve been making millions of dollars and flying under the radar by claiming to offer access to “sweepstakes” games.
Federal law says a sweepstakes must be free of charge to enter, and puts other requirements on sweepstakes operators that are not being followed at these establishments.
And unlike casinos, horse tracks or the lottery, these establishments don’t have to tell patrons their odds of winning or what the potential payout is.
Marlene Anielski, state representative (R-Walton Hills), said the bill, which she expects will be put to a committee vote by early next month, was introduced because of an outcry from mayors and police chiefs concerned about the proliferation of these businesses in their communities.
The legislation would allow cities and townships to ban Internet cafes.
Exactly what regulations to impose is a matter for debate and negotiation by lawmakers, but a certain threshold of oversight and transparency is necessary to ensure that these businesses are monitored and that the public is protected from unscrupulous operators.– Columbus Dispatch