City councils in Ohio towns like Fostoria and Tiffin are considering ordinances that would regulate Internet sweepstakes cafes. But a bill introduced in the Ohio House might render such legislation moot.
House Bill 605, according to State Rep. Terry Boose, R-Norwalk, would put such cafes out of business. The Internet cafes, which (supposedly) wrap sweepstakes entries in the guise of games of chance, face more than just the belief gambling operations should yield more than tax revenues paid by other businesses. The House bill would allow the Ohio Lottery to set rules for the cafes, which means the lottery system could regulate such competition out of business.
Some towns appear content to inspect cafes and charge the operators affordable fees. But if House Bill 605 becomes law, it's likely the state lottery would opt to keep sweepstakes cafes from taking a portion of the entertainment dollars residents spend on playing games.
The issue isn't whether playing games of chance - or the appearance of playing games of chance - is wrong. It's whether a public or private entity profits from the operation.