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Government and Politics


Ohio's Statehouse takes another swipe at internet cafes
Two bills now target 'sweepstakes parlors'
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT BILL COHEN


Reporter
Bill Cohen
 
Some of the gaming machines confiscated in raids in Cuyahoga County last month
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Ohio has nearly 800 internet cafes and sweepstakes parlors accused of selling illegal gambling. Later this month, state legislators are poised to give final approval to a bill aimed at shutting down the businesses. But, in the meantime, lawmakers are working on another proposal that tells the storefronts they are not welcome here. Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen files this report.
Statehouse takes another swipe at internet cafes

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Senate President Keith Faber says the stopgap bill, just approved unanimously by the Senate, would renew a moratorium on any new storefronts. That moratorium would otherwise end in June.
Faber and Senate Republicans say they're intent on approving a House-passed shut-down bill by May. But that could not take effect until after June, hence the new legislation.
It would order all existing cafes to self-report new information to law enforcement. The cafes would face daily fines of $1,000 for late reporting.
Cafe owners insist they're just selling phone cards and internet time to play video games. One Ohio court agrees, but the appeals court in Cuyahoga County calls them a ruse to cover up illegal gambling.
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