“I was employed at a state corrections facility. When I got charged with Felonious Assault and Kidnapping, my job put me on unpaid leave. Greg Robey fought hard for me and the State agreed to dismiss all the felony charges against me. I am now back on the job because of the hard work of Mr. Robey.” -T.J., Cleveland, Ohio
The laws and regulations governing gambling and gaming in Ohio are evolving. A recent report issued by State Attorney General Mike DeWine indicated that there are now 667 Internet cafes in Ohio, a figure that is more than double the amount than what officials had previously estimated. These purveyors of electronic sweepstakes essentially operate establishments where patrons can play a game of chance on computer terminals running software that emulates slot machines.
Northern Ohio is home to the highest concentration of Internet cafes in the state. One of these cafes in Westlake has even adopted a décor befitting a casino, complete with fancy plush carpeting, chandeliers, faux pillars, and a bar next door. These businesses are filling the demands of Ohio residents who voted earlier this spring when casinos finally opened up in the state. This means that the gaming venues in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania will probably miss the influx of Ohioans to their tables and machines, but it's a step in the right direction for a state that could use every bit of economic stimulus.
Even as the legislature has intervened to open more casinos and the State Attorney's office is pushing for greater oversight, licensing and registration of Internet cafes, opposition to gambling in Ohio continues. In early June, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Bill Mason sought to indict the owners of the sweepstakes software, who also manages the prizes that Ohio players take a chance on. The software providers, however, are based in New Jersey, and the Internet cafe operators are not targeted in the prosecution.