Internet cafes need regulations

Most forms of gambling in Ohio, from the ticket-based lottery on up to table gambling at casinos, is under at least some control by state government. But so-called ”Internet cafes” have been allowed to slip through cracks in state law.

Hundreds of such establishments exist throughout the state. Patrons buy time on phone cards or Internet-linked computers, then use their ”points” to bet on electronic games such as poker.

State Attorney General Mike DeWine is right to insist such gambling be regulated by the state.

This lack of oversight is evident in the uneven enforcement of gambling laws and unreliable registration of Internet cafes. According to a state database, there is one Internet cafe in Liberty. According to township officials, there are four.

Last week, one of the four was raided. Lost on the general public is the difference between that one and the other three. Lost on the public is the difference between the ones raided in Warren last year, and the ones that were not. Lost on the public is why Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins maintains that they clearly violate gambling laws yet not all of the ones in Trumbull County have been raided. And lost on the public is why they are chased out of some towns in Ohio but tolerated in others.

One reason for state oversight is to ensure legalized gambling follows at least some rules. State legislators should accept DeWine’s advice and provide for oversight of Internet cafes.