COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — At the urging of some of the state's top law enforcers, the once reticent Ohio Senate has decided to move forward with a ban on Internet cafes they now believe are conducting illegal gambling.
Republican Senate President Keith Faber said Wednesday that a majority of his caucus now agrees the cafes are involved in criminal activities, including illegal gambling, and should be outlawed.
Faber introduced an emergency bill late Tuesday immediately halting any new Internet cafes and requiring operators of current ones to file new, more thorough affidavits with the state that include background information on the facilities' true owners.
"Hopefully, we can get this done in a way that we don't have to worry about this again," Faber said. "But history has proven that this is something where we have to stay vigilant. These folks who figure out a way to operate in this area have a willingness to bend the law."
The GOP-controlled chamber only last week had signaled a bill limiting cash payouts from the cafes was still in trouble. The Ohio House had sent two similar measures since last year to the Senate, where they'd gotten bottled up in committee.
Joseph Rice, a lobbyist for several of the cafes in the Cleveland-area, called Faber's announcement interesting.
"It's a very interesting development and we will be monitoring the legislative process very closely," he said.