Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ohio House Passes Legislation to Establish “Internet Cafe” Regulations

COLUMBUS—Ohio House Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Huffman (R-Lima) today applauded the House’s passage of Substitute House Bill 7, which provides much-needed oversight to sweepstakes parlors, or “internet cafes.”

Substitute House Bill 7 retains the general framework of House Bill 605 from the 129th General Assembly, while tightening some of the definitions and addressing issues raised by members of the House and Senate.

Specifically, the legislation:

Clarifies what is a prohibited scheme of chance
Prohibits sweepstakes games on sweepstakes terminal devices if they give out prohibited prizes (cash, alcohol, tobacco, etc.) or more than $10 in merchandise prizes per play
Authorizes sweepstakes gaming if a person meets certain criteria and gets a certificate of registration through the Attorney General

“This legislation protects the public and addresses a growing law enforcement concern with the widespread expansion of these sweepstakes establishments,” said Rep. Huffman. “The House’s action today brings us one step closer to providing appropriate oversight and accountability over this unregulated industry.”

During the previous general assembly, the Legislature passed House Bill 386 to establish a moratorium on internet cafes. The Ohio Attorney General, local government officials, law enforcement groups, prosecutors, charitable organizations, and veteran and fraternal organizations have consistently urged the Legislature to pass a bill that provides strong regulation language and clarifies whether sweepstakes are considered illegal gambling.

Substitute House Bill 7 passed with bipartisan support and now will move to the Ohio Senate.