In a move designed to close hundreds of Internet cafes, Ohio lawmakers voted 27-6 in favor of a bill to restrict payments to $10 on sweepstakes machines.
With more than 600 such cafes throughout the state, Rep. Matt Huffman was able to gather legislative support at a ratio of more than 4-1 for HB 7. The bill has been sent to Governor John Kasich for his signature, which will likely end the proliferation of illegal gaming being run by the cafes.
As observed by Sen. Larry Obhof, Ohio voters never authorized statewide gambling. If they would like to authorize it, a petition with the requisite number of signatures would allow the matter to be voted on in the November 2014 election, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Some of the 27 legislators who voted aye are of the mind that the bill doesn’t do enough to shut down the cafes. Some who opposed the bill’s passage would like to see the Internet cafes regulated rather than shut down. In any event, it appears Kasich will sign the bill and only charitable organizations will be permitted to run electronic gaming after convincing lawmakers of their adherence to state laws.
Earlier this year, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed legislation shuttering hundreds of Internet cafes in the Sunshine State. That statute was hurriedly passed after 57 people with ties to the cafes were indicted in a racketeering and money laundering scam. Ohio authorities made no such arrests.