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House Bill 7 will soon ban Internet sweepstakes cafes in Ohio

Amid growing concerns over the proliferation of Internet sweepstakes cafes in Ohio, politicians in the American Midwestern state have passed legislation that will soon ban the venues from awarding cash prizes.

The state has approximately 800 Internet sweepstakes cafes serving its just over eleven million people and House Bill 7, which was sponsored by Ohio House of Representatives member Matt Huffman, recently passed through the Ohio Senate by a vote of 27 to six.

House Bill 7 was ratified by the Ohio House of Representatives in March by a vote of 67 to 30 and is now headed to the desk of Republican Governor John Kasich for his expected signature.

Huffman, a Republican that represents the area around the city of Lima, stated that sweepstakes parlours amount to unregulated gambling because they sell schemes of chance. He declared that the state’s constitution permits only regulated lotteries, charitable bingo and, following an amendment in 2009, casinos to operate.

“We owe it to the people in the state of Ohio to attempt to achieve what I think is always a primary goal in legislation and that is clarity,” said Huffman.

According to a report from The Plain Dealer newspaper, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently told lawmakers that some Internet sweepstakes cafes are involved in serious crimes including money laundering, racketeering, illegal gambling and human trafficking. These allegations have been echoed by other law enforcement agencies, public officials and charitable organisations. Supporters claim that the games are legal and that their cash contests are included with the purchase of phone or internet time.