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Fairlawn City Council Lifting Internet Cafe Moratorium

Council has decided it will push forward without the guidance of the Ohio General Assembly on how to regulate and restrict Internet sweepstakes cafes.

After three years, Fairlawn's city and elected officials have grown tired of waiting for the Ohio General Assembly to pass legislation on the regulation of Internet sweepstakes cafes. 

This spring, Fairlawn's moratorium on the cafes —  — will be lifted.

When that happens, the city aims to have ordinances in place to regulate the cafes and restrict them to an unspecified number of districts in the city, said Fairlawn Law Director Edward Riegler. 

Discussion to move forward came up last month and was revisited at Monday's Council meeting.

Riegler said the next step is for local officials to hold a public meeting and discuss possible zoning code changes that would mirror the yet-to-be-determined scope of the district restrictions. 

The council would then consider how best to regulate the operation of the cafes.

The final decision on how to proceed will likely come by winter or early spring. 

City officials decided to push forward after the Ohio Senate rejected a House Bill in December that would have all but put the cafes out of business. 

"(Ohio's representatives and senators) have been trying to address the issue for three years, and they haven't been doing a good job," said Riegler. 

Given the impasse, the Assembly has started the process over again and will attempt to forge a consensus sometime over the next two years.  

In the event of an agreement on the state level, council president Russ Sharnsky said the city would likely adjust the legislation accordingly on the local level.

How it works

At Internet sweepstakes cafes, customers buy phone cards for any amount of money, and that money correlates to sweepstakes points.

The customer uses the card to get on the Internet to surf or play sweepstakes games. Customers have the potential to win money, but the games are not considered gambling since the chances of winning are predetermined.

Sharon Copley January 10, 2013 at 03:50 PM
I hope that Fairlawn has enough sense NOT to let these "cafes" open for business. It is gambling no matter what you call it and it will bring down the businesses adjacent to them. Look around neighboring communities and bring this picture back to Fairlawn when debating.
Megan Rozsa January 10, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Thanks for sharing, Sharon. How do the rest of you feel about this? Have you been to an Internet cafe? Or do you choose to avoid them?

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