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Gaming cafe to replace seniors complex

Published: Thu, April 7, 2011 @ 12:06 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern



A local senior-living complex soon will be transformed into an Internet sweepstakes cafe.

Businessman Felix Savon has received a conditional- use permit from the township zoning board of appeals to install 50 computer stations in the front part of Sateri Retirement Apartments, 960 Boardman-Canfield Road.

Savon said the 10 tenants in the building have about two months to move before the cafe’s opening.

“We’re not doing anything to hurt the clients that are there. We’re working with local agencies, and placements have already been secured,” he said.

The change was prompted by the lack of profitability of the health-care business, said Savon, who owns the buildings and has been in the industry since 1972.

“All three of my buildings [on U.S. Route 224] are assisted living,” he said. “We’re trying to downsize a little bit and maintain two of them. Actually, to be honest, it’s still not profitable. It would almost be worth it if I closed and let them sit there, but I don’t like vacant buildings.”

Savon said the changes in health-care costs from the federal and state levels have hurt his business. So, with shrinking profits, he decided to try something new and “something that would be fun.”

“I frequently go to [the cafes]. I don’t see a lot of sad people there, I see people there having fun and enjoying themselves,” Savon said.

The plan includes increasing the size of the parking lot and interior renovations, possibly putting retail shops where the apartments used to be.

“But right now, I’m sitting back and watching to see what’s happening,” Savon added.

He’s referring to legislation recommended last month by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine that would establish oversight of gaming at Internet cafes and similar establishments.

Last month, DeWine announced that he was working with two state representatives to draft legislation that would mandate skill-based or sweepstakes gaming parlors be certified with a license issued by the Casino Control Commission.

It also would allow municipalities to opt out of having gaming locations and would limit the number of sweepstakes gaming terminals to five per location.

“The legislation has not yet been introduced. Everything will start with the bill once it’s drafted and then ... the legislative process has a lot of opportunities for give and take,” said Lisa Hackley, spokeswoman for the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

Savon said his biggest concern is with the limited number of machines.

“To put it at five is going to be ridiculous. They’ll have them on every little corner in gas stations or corner stores. It’s not going to stop it at all,” he said.

Hackley said Savon’s concern was “speculative” and that “it would depend on who wants to pay the licensing fee.”

Township Zoning Inspector Anna Mamone said her department gets inquiries about Internet sweepstakes cafes every day. The township has approved 11 Internet sweepstakes cafes since the first request was filed in December 2007.

A hearing is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday for another Internet sweepstakes cafe with a proposed location in Boardman Plaza.

“We’re hoping to get rules and guidelines,” Mamone said. “... Until we get a recommendation from the attorney general, we have no other recourse” than the board of zoning appeals.

Savon’s first request for an Internet sweepstakes cafe in another location was denied because that property, on Route 224 across from the Blue Wolf Tavern, was zoned residential, Mamone said. The Sateri site already is zoned commercial.

Savon is readying his first Internet sweepstakes cafe and is watching for the legislation.

“That’s the trouble with anything that’s new and someone does not have control over it. They get excited. I think that’s what happening with the states. They want to control [the cafes], and when they have control, they have their hand out and they have to be paid,” he said.


1YoungerVoice(9 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

I've noticed that a number of these "Internet Sweepstakes Cafes" that keep popping up are conveniently located next to payday lenders. Our plazas are looking sadder by the day.

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2oldstown(266 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

"Savon said the changes in health-care costs from the federal and state levels have hurt his business."

We can thank Soetoro, Strickland and Cordray (two down, one to go!) and their war on capitalism for putting good businesses under...and seniors out on the streets.

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3nojimbo(286 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Uh, Savon sold his Ron Joy facility to Briarfield which is still operating so no seniors are "out on the street" and the Sateri residents will end up going to one of the several other facilities and companies like Briarfield that are making a profit in health care in the area.

Savon has cried poverty for years. Surely he was making some money and not operating at a loss for 20+ years.

The internet cafe craze, as long as it lasts, is just a capitalist's wet dream - the chance to make a load of money off of gullible/addicted customers without alot of effort or the production of any real product or service.

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4Askmeificare(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

@ nojimbo:

"...the chance to make a load of money off of gullible/addicted customers without alot of effort or the production of any real product or service."

Right or wrong, isn't that what most businesses offer / stand for anyway?

If customers are "gullible/addicted customers" then where is their personal responsibility?

If customers allow themselves to be taken advantage of and / or remain an uneducated consumer, then customers ARE NOT being taken advantage of.

Does the old saying "buyer beware" inherently include "personal responsibility is of the buyer?

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5Vaaa076(1 comment)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

well nojimbo,
you obviously must be privy to Mr. Savons finacial statements over the last 20 years to know whether he has had loss or gain. his care for his patients and company is what kept Ron Joy open for many of the past years, NOT GAIN and PROFIT! are you seriously going to stereotype people who play the internet sweepstakes as gullible and addicted?? people of all kinds like to go and have a little fun that doesn't involve sitting in a bar getting drunk! there are plenty of bars in the area... do u persecute them as well?? i personally will be happy to see a place where people can gather to socialize and have a little fun that doesn't involve alcohol. it's funny how quickly people are to jump on others when it involves money. who is it that you're really concerned about entering your neighborhood?? because i know that the place Savon is planning on opening will be a clean and nice place.

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