Sweepstakes Law Introduces A New GameOHIO – Several local businesses shut down in Ohio as the new bill which limits cash prizes to $10 took effect last October. The only thing that remained of the once flourishing sweepstakes industry was the phone lines in empty shops. However, a new surge of ‘compliant games’ have been popping up replacing the old sweepstakes games with a new type of game.The effect of House Bill 7 was felt instantly as Attorney General Mike DeWine sent out notification letters to sheriffs and internet cafes across Ohio once the Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs abandon its campaign as they fall short of about 71, 000 valid signatures from 44 different states in Ohio.According to Dan Tierney, though it was hard to track the total of internet cafes that close down, a score of internet shops ceased operation as soon as the law took effect.Both phone numbers for Park Place Cyber 777 in Mansfield and Starz Internet Cafe in Heath were now disconnected.The former Starz Internet Cafe with multi-colored carpeting was seen with a large “for lease” signs across the road.Law enforcement from Bucyrus reported that all exclusive sweepstakes establishment had vacated the city.A club manager named John Topper of the Bucyrus American Legion Post 181 claims their organization used two games which were in line with the new law.“The company we got them off of, they’re saying they’re legal. We’re not paying out more than $10 at a time,” Topper declared.Topper also said he does not understand why the state was against gambling since small operations like his business was not a threat to casino business.In Cuyahoga County, six internet cafes were busted in April, six months before the law took effect. A gaming technology provider based in New Jersey called VS2 was raided as well. VS2 plead not to sell gaming software to Ohio as part of its plea agreement.In May, a sweep was conducted on Lucky Duck in Ontario. Officers also searched five internet shops in Union County in August.Police Captain Jim White from Fremont stated that all internet establishments vacated the area as soon as HB 7 took effect.White also said that the city was prepared to monitor the internet café industry rather than eliminate them.“We didn’t have any problems with them,” White reiterated.
COLUMBUS – Law enforcement seems to be ready to begin enforcing Ohio’s new Internet sweepstakes cafe law.
“Internet sweepstakes cafes have long had operations that raised suspicions of illegal gambling,” DeWine proclaims in a news release.
“Ohio now has a law which makes clear which activities are legal and illegal in these cafes, and we will not hesitate to enforce the law.”
The law DeWine refers to is House Bill 7, which allows the Attorney General’s Office regulatory authority over sweepstakes terminal devices used by Internet sweepstakes cafes. Cafes are required to get a certificate of registration from the Attorney General’s Office and required to file monthly reports.
The Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation also now will have authority to investigate gambling law violations that occur at sweepstakes parlors.
The attorney general’s plans to send certified letters to the parlors that previously filed affidavits of existence following a moratorium on new cafes. The letter will outline the changes to law enacted by HB 7, including a $10 limit on the value of prizes.
The new law also outlaws prizes in the form of cash, gift cards, lottery tickets, bingo, instant bingo, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or vouchers for any such items.
Currently, As of June 27, 2013, 17 cafes in Mahoning County had filed affidavits of existence; Trumbull County also had 17 listed Internet cafes. As recently as January of this year, and before the affidavits were required, Trumbull County had 47 listed cafes, while Mahoning County had 37.
The new law also draws a line between the casino-style games played at Internet cafes and traditional promotional sweepstakes offered by retailers such as McDoanlds (Is the website www.PLAYatMCD.com now illegal in Ohio ?) Retailers who offer promotional sweepstakes via a terminal device will have certain restrictions and registration to ensure compliance with Ohio law, according to the attorney general’s office.
The Attorney General’s Office also will be sending out letters to all county prosecutors letting them know of the known cafes in their county. The Attorney General’s Office will continue to provide assistance to local law enforcement who request assistance on illegal gambling investigations regarding Internet sweepstakes cafes, including services from BCI, charitable law investigators and attorneys and special prosecutors.
“House Bill 7 certainly offers clearer guidelines for legal sweepstakes than what previously existed in Ohio law,” DeWine said. “Sweepstakes operators need to conduct their business in accordance with the law. We will be watching.”
Similar Laws In Other States Have Been Struck Down
COLUMBUS – The Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs hoped to overturn a new state law aimed at closing sweepstakes parlors has failed in its efforts to allow voters to make the choice on a ballot.
The group announced Thursday evening that they were unable to collect the 71,000-plus additional signatures needed to qualify for the ballot and decided not to submit new petitions to the secretary of state’s office.
The group, however, left open the possibility of lawsuits to challenge House Bill 7, which banned cash payouts, capped prize values at $10, required increased registration and oversight of sweepstakes parlors and likely will lead to the closing of most of the storefronts. Lawsuits in other states have been successful when new laws have been implemented to curb the businesses.
“With respect to the ability of Ohioans to continue to patronize Internet sweepstakes cafes in Ohio, legal challenges to HB 7 are under consideration by industry attorneys,” the group said, adding, “As of today, there is nothing to announce in that regard.”
Cafe owners say claim their businesses are operating legally, selling products (often phone cards) or services (often Internet access) to customers and compare them to someone buying a burger at Mcdonald’s and entering the Monopoly sweepstakes.
Lawmakers say HB-7 was needed because sweepstakes parlors were skirting state law and offering unregulated gambling, with parlors often becoming havens for other illegal activities.
The Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs began their referendum effort to overturn the legislation, and parlor owners submitted
more than 433,000 signatures to the secretary of state in September.In which, 160,000 of those names were confirmed as valid by county elections officials, short of the 231,000 that was needed to qualify for the ballot.
“The committee is grateful to the tens of thousands of voters who signed petitions in solidarity with the 80 percent of Ohioans who oppose banning Internet sweepstakes cafes,” the group said in a released statement. “Sadly, as a result of House Bill 7 going into effect, Ohio will lose thousands of jobs and state and local governments will lose millions of dollars in tax revenues.”
Proponents Claim The Numbers Are Propaganda Supplied By A Casino Agenda
People collecting signatures to place a repeal of Ohio’s Internet sweepstakes restriction on the ballot case are being pestered by “corporate casino enthusiasts.”.
The Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs just recently provided a press release noting that authorities records were filed in Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo “since individuals working with the business casino enthusiasts to oppose the mandates are physically obstructing Ohioans who want to sign as signatures are gathereed.”.
In Columbus, a mandate advocate was apparently running the show. In one more accident, a signature gatherer got a temporary civil defense order versus Matthew Cane, alleging that he sat outside her location of employment every day, followed her when she left her workplace and nearly struck the back of her business van, scaring her and her guests. At a hearing on the concern today in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, the short-term protection order was withdrawn and the case dismissed without more action.
In Toledo, “2 automobiles with four people in each were parked outside our workplace in our exclusive lot noting our workplace and activity,” an interior report states. “When the Deputy Director left for the day, among the vehicles (white Chevy Malibu) followed him for around one mile while video tape-recording him.”.
The exact same Malibu was back the following day, together with one more vehicle, and the people inside once again allegedly followed trademark gatherers when they left the building. Toledo Police were called, and they told the cars’ residents to leave and not adhere to the people at all, on the record.
Matt Dole, representative for the Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs, stated the group has no evidence that Ohio’s casino owners are responsible, yet think they’re the reasonable cause.
“We believe that the corporate casino interests are spending for the FieldWorks operatives who are presenting aggressive and threatening behavior,” he said. “With 80 percent of Ohioans opposing the ban of Internet sweepstakes cafes, the casino enthusiasts are the only group with methods who protest enabling Ohioans to exercise their right for citizen mandate.”.
FieldWorks, headquartered in Washington, D.C., specializes in canvassing and ballot campaigns. Their customer listing mentions numerous unions and Democratic Party companies. In Ohio, they specify Ohio Learn and Earn and Ohioans for Healthy Families as customers.
The Ohio Learn and Earn Committee backed Issue 3, which legislated gambling in Ohio. Ohioans for Healthy Families was a short-term group developed in 2007 to sustain paid sick days for all workers in the state.
While Ohioans Against Illegal Gambling is not listed as a client, Carlo LoParo of Strategic Public Partners and a spokesperson for the team, acknowledged they tapped the services of FieldWorks to collaborate academic efforts.
“Specifically, they are making sure all of our employee work in a fashion that is considerate of the application procedure while they provide facts regarding the referendum initiative,” LoParo claimed. “We are simply providing voters more info. We are not shutting out the petition gathering initiative.”.
LoParo likewise pointed out referendum hunters are not efficiently explaining the applications to voters.
“We believe voters have a right to understand the facts about exactly what Internet cafe operatives are asking them to authorize,” he said. “To date, Internet cafe supporters have been incredibly deceitful in their explanation to electors. These petitions do not legislate Internet cafes nor do they legitimize the unlawful gambling developing at these facilities.”.
OAIG assists H.B. 7, which effectively outlaws Internet cafes in the state. A prior law put a pause on such operations.
Referendum advocates have till Sept. 3 to send sufficient trademarks to stop implementation of the ban until voters can decide the concern at the November 2014 general election.
Nonetheless, a modification added to S.B. 141 would certainly impose added regulations on Internet cafes. As Ohio Watchdog formerly stated:.
Must the Internet cafes operators gather enough trademarks, put the mandate on the tally and gain voter approval, the amendment to S.B. 141 would certainly still make the businesses illegal. In addition, because S.B. 141 has an emergency clause, it is exempt to a mandate and will take effect when signature by the governor.
S.B. 141 was gone by the Senate and is pending in the House.