You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Group seeks to overturn sweepstakes ban

More than 430,000 signatures turned in for November 2014 ballot issue.

Petitioners seeking to overturn a new ban on Internet sweepstakes cafes turned in more than 430,000 signatures to put the referendum on the November 2014 ballot.

The Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs needs more than 231,148 valid signatures and a significant number from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties to delay implementation of House Bill 7 until next year. Petition signatures will be sent to county boards of election to verify the signers reside in Ohio.

Sweepstakes cafes sell Internet or phone time with free sweepstakes points that can be used to play slots-like games played on computers. An estimated 800 cafes operated at one time, but the new law’s requirement that businesses register with the attorney general’s office revealed only 339 are currently in operation. The Miami Valley is home to about 30 registered cafes.

Attorney General Mike DeWine has said the cafes, a cash-only business, are ripe for money laundering, illegal gambling and other illegal activity. Cafe owners say most businesses offer a legitimate sweepstakes and they want to be regulated.

“Anybody who plays a McDonald’s Monopoly game knows that sweepstakes are legal across the country and in Ohio,” campaign spokesman Matt Dole told reporters. “If somebody is operating slot machines or something else that is against the laws in Ohio, we’re in favor of shutting them down.”

Dole said the group turned in 433,884 signatures with signatures from every county, with the help of hundreds of paid and volunteer signature gatherers.

The group is the first to petition for referendum under a new law enacted earlier this year that reduces the time available to collect signatures. Previously, groups could continue gathering signatures after turning in the first batch. The new law requires groups to halt collecting signatures while boards of election verify their authenticity, the collecting of new signatures to a 10-day bonus period.

The referendum would trigger a costly battle between the cafes and software companies and Ohio’s casinos, which were written into the state’s constitution by voters through a 2009 ballot issue.

Ohioans Against Illegal Gambling, an opposition group backed by the casinos, said the petition effort has been wrought with deceptive tactics and misinformation.

“Internet cafe operatives have resorted to deception, mischaracterizations and plain old fashion lying to collect their signatures,” spokesman Carlo LoParo said in a statement. “Individuals who signed these petitions would be surprised to learn they were not supporting a Justice Department investigation of the George Zimmerman jury verdict, among other things.”

The pro-Internet cafe group raised $641,500 during the first six months of the year, mostly from a South Carolina-based sweepstakes software company and a dozen Ohio Internet cafes, according to campaign finance reports. The group spent $551,250 for paid signature gatherers during that time.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Participation down in program that give tax breaks to homeowners
Participation down in program that give tax breaks to homeowners

A program that gives property tax breaks to senior citizens and permanently disabled individuals has seen a sharp decline in enrollment since Ohio reinstated income restrictions. In Montgomery County, new approved filings for the homestead property tax exemption are at least at a 10-year low, and the total number of participants in the program has...
Trump will be a cable news boon, challenge
Trump will be a cable news boon, challenge

Cable news networks had reason to feel bittersweet about the end of 2016 as Donald Trump’s historic campaign for the White House drove their ratings to record levels. But in the days leading up to his inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, Trump’s continuing love-hate relationship with them provided a compelling sequel...
Right to Life march set for Kettering on Tuesday
Right to Life march set for Kettering on Tuesday

Two state lawmakers have planned a local Dayton Right to Life march for this Tuesday in Kettering. The march is billed as an event to “pray for those attending the March for Life in Washington” next week. The march will be at 5:30 p.m. State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, and state Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg are reviving a march that...
Women, supporters march in D.C., around America day after inauguration
Women, supporters march in D.C., around America day after inauguration

Two things became abundantly clear during a six hour span in the nation’s capital Saturday: Donald Trump begins his presidency facing a loud, raucous resistance, and that resistance is still figuring out how to tell its story. While hundreds of thousands descended on Washington, D.C. less than 24 hours after Trump was sworn in as president, the...
Water bills ‘breaking backs’ of Miamisburg customers
Water bills ‘breaking backs’ of Miamisburg customers

Customers say city bills showing questionably steep jumps in water use amid annual rate hikes are “breaking the backs” of Miamisburg residents, and local officials say their skepticism is understandable. Susan Greb, while living by herself and seeking to conserve water, said she was billed for using 56,250 gallons of water from September...
More Stories