News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

NOCHE

Levin Furniture


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Ohio


The battle over Ohio's internet cafes takes a nasty turn
Backers of the storefronts says big casino operatives are interfering with their drive for a voter referendum
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Machines seized in raids on internet cafes in Cuyahoga County.
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Last month legislation that could basically outlaw the estimated 800 internet cafes in Ohio was signed into law. And there’s already trouble over the issue, before it’s even close to the ballot.

LISTEN: The fight to get on the ballot (short)

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (1:01)


LISTEN: The fight to get on the ballot (extended)

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:45)


Owners and supporters of internet cafés want to block and eventually overturn the law that would effectively ban those sweepstakes parlors in strip malls, former restaurants and mostly empty rows of storefronts. They have formed a group called the Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs, which is using paid and volunteer workers to gather at least 231,000 petition signatures to put a repeal of the crackdown before voters next year.

Spokesman Matt Dole says they’ve gathered tens of thousands of signatures, but they are finding trouble – from those who oppose the possible ballot issue.

“In Cleveland, they’re actually stepping in between the person who wants to sign the petition and the petition and refusing to allow them to sign until they’ve had their say. In Columbus, there was actually a court order issued, a stalking order issued because the opponents were actually following our staffers to their homes after work.”

Where's the opposition coming from?
And Dole says a signature gatherer was nearly run off the road in Columbus by one of those opponents. Dole says police reports have been filed in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo because of activities by a Washington, D.C., based group called Fieldworks.

“We believe that Fieldworks was hired by the corporate casino interests. We don’t know of anybody else who opposes the issue.”

'Over the top'
Carlo LoParo speaks for Ohioans Against Illegal Gambling, which is described as a broad coalition of groups and individuals who support the crackdown. “These allegations are certainly over the top. We wouldn’t tolerate that type of activity from our people," he insists.

He acknowledges, though, the coalition has been watching the petition drive and has problems with it.

“What we’ve observed is internet café operatives are out there on the street telling individuals that by signing this petition it will give them an opportunity to vote on legalizing gambling in internet cafes. That is certainly not the case.”

LoParo confirms that Ohioans Against Illegal Gambling did hire Fieldworks to coordinate what he calls its grassroots educational effort, but says all team members are operating in a respectful manner and that they are not blocking the petition gathering effort.  LoParo says Ohio’s casinos are members of the of Ohioans Against Illegal Gambling coalition. 

The casinos weigh in
Bob Tenenbaum speaks for Penn National, which operates the casinos in Columbus and Toledo. Tenenbaum says Penn National isn’t doing any direct work to oppose the ballot issue, but says casinos are concerned about it.

“This really isn’t about the voters. You’re talking about an industry that in our view, and in the view of several court decisions and the attorney general, is engaged in illegal gambling. I think it’s as simple an issue as that.”

There is nothing in state law that prevents both supporters of a ballot issue and opponents from trying to persuade a voter to sign or not sign a petition. Ohio State election law professor Dan Tokaji says both sides are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as long as they don’t do anything criminal such as threaten or physically attack anyone.

“It’s no surprise that there are passionately held views on both sides of this issue. And this wouldn’t be the first time. The other issue that comes immediately to mind as ... a parallel is the issue of abortion, where we have often had people with very strong views trying to express those views.”

Tokaji says he would be surprised if a lawsuit doesn’t result at some point. He’s hoping it would be filed in federal court because he says that’s the best place to decide issues related to freedom of speech.

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio Republicans protest the loss of Mt. McKinley
I believe the U.S.gov't. was overstepping its bounds by renaming a mountain that belongs to Alaska. How would we like it if Alaska (or any other state) telling ...

Pluto: University of Akron cuts baseball - should football be next?
remember when akron and Youngstown state were both in the ovc. As a Morehead State fan, made trips to both schools and had a wonderful experience. Played Akron ...

Ohio to aid young adults who age out of foster care
I think it's a great idea. I worked for an at risk high school and it was really sad to see the amount of kids who had no where to go because they had aged out...

Could University Circle developments ripple into East Cleveland?
Outsiders are so far off the beaten path and you all need to attend the meeting being held today 8/31/15 Cleveland Public Library, 1:00 PM. http://44112news.co...

ResponsibleOhio leader says the state is trying to set Issue 3 up for failure
Ohio suppose to believe that a group of investors were united under one cause to legalize marijuana.Once legal they all of sudden turn into 10 different compani...

Terry Pluto: U of A's new athletic director has the toughest job in town
It is a hard sell. The Students do not want to go to the football games and they do not want to pay for the program. They have a lot of student loan debt and t...

Akron considering the future of the B.F. Goodrich smokestacks
This BFGoodrich alumna says, "Thank you, Dave Lieberth!"

State creates panel to look at Ohio charter school sponsors
It is more than disturbing that charter schools, which seemed like a good idea years ago, have begun to cripple public school education.

DEVO mural in Akron is now on display downtown
The installation is not at the former site of Chili Dog Mac. CDM was one block north on the other side of Main St.

New report shows growth in white collar jobs for Northeast Ohio
Unfortunately, there are fewer jobs in comparison to the number of professionals applying for them. I have been had a full time job since June 2012. In order to...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University