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Some Internet cafes in Ohio already closed



Published: Sun, October 6, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Associated Press

COLUMBUS

The impact of a new state law that effectively bans storefront sweepstakes parlors is already being felt.

A company that provides software and Internet service to dozens of parlors in the state canceled its contracts with those sites minutes before the new law went into effect.

Another provider agreed to stop doing business in Ohio in a plea deal settling a gambling case, the newspaper said.

Gov. John Kasich in June signed the virtual ban that restricted payouts at Internet cafes, which law enforcement officials believe have been harboring illegal gambling operations.

Hundreds of Internet cafes operate in Ohio, representing growing competition to legalized casinos and charity games.

Opponents of the ban announced this week they were dropping their effort to pursue a ballot repeal due to a lack of signatures.

Pong Marketing and Promotions, which provided software and Internet service to 55 cafes, terminated all of its contracts with Ohio retail customers Thursday.

VS2 Worldwide Communication, a provider to 45 Internet cafes, said it would pull out of the state in a plea deal with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office. Two of the company’s owners were to face a trial next week in Cleveland on racketeering, money laundering and gambling charges.

Meanwhile, a pair of Internet Cafes in Columbus were already locked and appeared to be closed.

Attorney General Mike DeWine, a frequent critic of the operations, has promised to enforce the new regulations limiting payouts right away.

DeWine is notifying county sheriffs and Internet-cafe owners about the new requirements.

, which includes a $10 limit on the value of prizes and bans on cash prizes.

State law enforcement officials have maintained no single law enforcement agency has authority to investigate or pursue criminal charges statewide for any illegal activity at the cafes, which they argue leaves the industry open to money laundering and other crimes.

Foes of the crackdown say the law went too far in limiting activity at the parlors, many of which they describe as mom-and-pop operations that provide jobs in local communities.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com


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