Internet Cafes in Ohio Under Investigation for Alleged Illegal Gambling

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Associated Press
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Internet Cafes in Ohio Under Investigation for Alleged Illegal Gambling

MARYSVILLE, Ohio — (Associated Press) - A multi-agency investigation of online gambling targeted Internet cafes and other locations in seven Ohio counties with search warrants Thursday.

The task force has been investigating allegations of Ohio gambling law violations and allegations of illegal bingo and money laundering, authorities said. Marysville police said in a release that they expected to seize gambling machines, as well as financial and other records noted in the warrants.

No arrests were expected Thursday, although charges could be filed later, authorities said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Union County authorities said the nearly yearlong investigation began in Union County's Marysville, about 30 miles northwest of Columbus.

"Our investigation began with one local Internet cafe and a skill game establishment, but then grew as it became obvious this same activity was occurring at multiple businesses across several jurisdictions," Marysville Police Chief Floyd Golden said in a release.

Police say search warrants were served at several sweepstakes or Internet cafe locations, a bank, a motel and a home. Sites searched were in Union, Shelby, Hardin, Butler, Montgomery, Franklin and Logan counties. Cities where warrants were executed included Dublin, Miamisburg, Marysville, Bellefontaine, Sydney, Middletown and Kenton.

Union County authorities have been leading the investigation and say they expect to present multiple cases to a county grand jury at the end of the investigation.

DeWine noted that officials are in only the beginning stage of what authorities expect will be a long investigation.

"While it is too early in the investigation to go into specifics, we do believe the alleged criminal activity at these locations goes beyond illegal gambling," DeWine said in a statement.

Opponents of an Ohio law that strictly limits casino-style games offered by Internet cafes have pushed to have the law repealed. They are seeking a new law regulating the industry and shutting down what they have said are rogue sweepstakes parlor operators.

The law's supporters say Internet cafes were harboring illegal gambling.

More than 620 Internet cafes operate in Ohio, representing competition to legalized casinos and charity games.

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