Ohio Senate should ban Internet cafes
Surely Ohio state senators finally have heard enough about so-called ”Internet cafes” to agree with a ban on them already approved by the House of Representatives. The businesses are grassroots illegal gambling and should not be tolerated in the Buckeye State.
Hundreds of ”Internet cafes” rake in the money throughout the state. Though the money trail from betting to winning – or, more likely, losing – takes a path different than that of other gambling schemes, the end result is the same.
Now, as a result of law enforcement raids in Ohio and New Jersey, the cafes’ last line of defense – that they allegedly are small, mom and pop businesses – has been demolished.
It turns out a New Jersey firm, VS2 Worldwide Communications, is the big money behind most, if not all, Internet cafes in Ohio. The company provides the gambling software used by cafe computers. In exchange, VS2 rakes in 25 percent of the money gambled on the terminals, according to Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy McGinty.
As a result of the recent raids in Cleveland and at VS2 headquarters in New Jersey, charges were filed against 11 people and eight companies, accusing them of various crimes related to illegal gambling.
This is not the first time law enforcement officials have learned of the link between VS2 and Ohio Internet cafes. At least a year ago, the information was uncovered in law enforcement raids in Ohio.
But the situation has changed since then. For one thing, a VS2-managed scheme to make campaign contributions to state lawmakers was uncovered. For another, a state appeals court in March ruled Internet cafes are illegal gambling.
Ohio House of Representatives members approved a ban on Internet cafe gambling last year, but the measure was killed in the state Senate.
Now, as a result of changes in the situation, it appears almost as if senators would be engaging in a mere formality by approving the ban. Again, law enforcement agencies, upheld by the courts, are busy cracking down on Internet cafes.
Still, if only to get on board the bandwagon, state senators should approve the House-passed bill banning Internet cafe gambling. Better late than never.