Fairlawn Halts Action on Internet Cafes

City Council will wait for state to regulate storefront gaming


Fairlawn officials, who were poised to pass legislation regulating Internet sweepstakes cafes, are backing off that plan in hopes that a state law will tackle the issue instead.

Law Director Edward Riegler, speaking at a Committe of the Whole meeting Monday, said Police Chief Ken Walsh has asked council to give Ohio lawmakers a few more months to come up with statewide rules for the cafes.

"He would like us to hold this (legislation)," Riegler said. "He's hoping the state will come through eventually."

Fairlawn's moratorium on the cafes —  — will expire in June.  

The local regulations were drafted after city officials, tired of waiting for the state to take action, decided to handle Internet cafes locally.

The measures, which have been read three times and are ready for a vote, restrict the cafes to certain zoning districts and impose regulations on how they operate.

City officials decided to push forward after the Ohio Senate rejected a 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," Riegler said in January.

But he said Ohio legislators have introduced a new bill dealing with the businesses.

"By June, hopefully we can see what direction they're headed," Council President Russ Sharnsky said.

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 necessarily considered gambling because the chances of winning are predetermined.


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