Boardman plans its own Internet cafe crackdown

By Ashley Luthern


Township trustees are expected at a meeting today to have a first reading of a resolution to regulate Internet sweepstakes cafes.

The township ordinance would complement state regulations on the Internet sweepstakes cafes, officials said. In June, Gov. John Kasich signed a yearlong moratorium on new Internet cafes in Ohio.

The cafes are allowed to offer skill-based machines under state law, and prizes are supposed to be limited to merchandise with a wholesale value of less than $10, according to Vindicator archives.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office reported that eight cafes in Boardman have registered with the state, said township Administrator Jason Loree.

“We want to require them to post sweepstakes odds and undergo testing from private companies to prove that what they’re doing is sweepstakes and not slots. We’ll require an age limit of 18 to go into a cafe,” Loree said.

When the year-long moratorium is lifted, new sweepstakes cafes in Boardman will not be permitted within 1,000 feet of a school, church, public library, playground or an existing business that has a liquor permit, Loree said.

The township also wants contact information for all Internet cafe owners on the application form and plans to collect a $100-per-terminal fee, he added.

Before the moratorium, Internet cafe owners had to appear before the board of zoning appeals to receive a conditional-use permit in areas zoned commercial.

Trustee Chairman Brad Calhoun said several establishments in Ohio reportedly failed to complete the required state affidafit.

“Being proactive, we wanted to register all establishments and confirm that all state rules and regulations are being fulfilled,” Calhoun said.

When the resolution is approved, the township’s fiscal office will visit each establishment and complete paper work to verify that the machines are used appropriately and fairly to patrons, Calhoun said.

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