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Ohio lawmakers, not voters, will likely decide the fate of internet cafes
State Sen. Schiavoni says the cafes have to be regulated, but lawmakers haven't shown they're willing to do it

Bill Cohen
Machines confiscated in raids on internet cafes in Cuyahoga County earlier this month.
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In The Region:

Ohio voters will decide the fate of the nearly 800 storefronts accused of illegal gambling -- if a Youngstown state senator gets his way. Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports, though, that the senator probably won’t get his way, primarily because other legislators are vowing to decide the storefronts' fate themselves.



COHEN: Next step for internet cafes?

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COHEN: Abridged version on internet cafe future

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For more than a year, Ohio lawmakers have debated whether to close or regulate the businesses that call themselves internet cafes or sweepstakes stores. But no final action has been taken.

Democratic State Sen. Joe Schiavoni  of Youngstown says it may be time to let the voters have a say. “Do people want to keep these around or don’t people want to keep these around? It’ll be Ohioans’ option.”

Schiavoni says he’s no proponent of the storefronts, and that unregulated gambling should not continue. He says a ballot-issue might resolve what lawmakers won’t.

“It’s not my place to carry the flag for internet sweepstakes. … I just feel that if we’re going to have this form of gambling in the state, it must be regulated. If we’re going to keep them, let’s regulate them; if we’re not, then let’s throw them out the window and be done.”

After months of delays on a House-passed bill, the Ohio Senate has said that it plans to ban the cafes in the next few weeks. If it comes to that, Schiavoni says he won’t fight the issue any further.

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