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Another twist in the battle over Internet gambling.

Last week, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason filed indictments and ordered Internet gambling businesses to close after a statewide investigation. Ten people have been charged in the case.

On Monday, some business owners filed a motion with Cuyahoga County court trying to get a judge’s order to allow them to stay open.

Mason’s cease and desist letters to Cuyahoga County’s Internet Cafe’s made headlines.  He was backed up by Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine in the claim that the cafe’s violate Ohio’s gambling laws.

Cafe owners cried foul and filed a request for a temporary restraining order late Monday, saying Mason’s action was heavy handed.

“It’s like bringing a sledge hammer to do brain surgery,” said Daniel Gourash, attorney for the Sweepstakes Cafe.

One of their claims is that by shutting down the cafe’s, Mason was limiting free speech and access to the Internet.

Assistant County Prosecutor David Lambert says, “We’re not seeking to prohibit any speech whatever, we’re seeking to prohibit the gambling itself.”

The cafe’s sell patrols phone cards, which are swiped into computers where they can wager on sweepstakes through the Internet.

Ohio’s definition of gambling says it is any game that includes chance, and a prize for consideration or payment. The claim of the cafe owner is that because phone cards are used instead of cash there is no consideration therefore no cash. No gambling.

The Internet access time purchased is never at risk of being lost in the sweepstakes.

Judge Nancy Russo said today she’s not comfortable making a decision either way today.  Russo has jurisdiction in the case so she wants clarification from the Court of Appeals before she rules.  She set another hearing for Monday morning.

In the meantime, the cafes can’t do business.  The entire matter could become a moot point as a House Bill on the Governor’s desk would grandfather in current cafes.


Article Courtesy of WOIO 19 Action News

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