There have been some inquiries to the City about the opening of an internet sweepstakes café in Middletown. These establishments provide an opportunity to purchase credit on the internet or for other office-type services. This purchase enters the buyer into a sweepstakes process. The buyer can use their credits to play games of chance. At the end of the session, the buyer can cash out their winnings. These establishments have developed rapidly in northern Ohio. Many communities have licensed them. At least one municipal court has opined that this is not gambling under Ohio law. The owners compare the cafes to sweepstakes, such as those offered by fast-food restaurants and soft drink companies.
After consultation internally and with the Attorney General’s office, the City believes that this is gambling, and is prohibited by Ohio law. The City has advised potential operators of that position. A case is being litigated in Springfield, which will shed some light on how these establishments will be treated. Toter