Ohio Internet Cafes Try New Game of Skill


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A prosecutor in Cleveland wants to close down Internet sweepstakes cafes in the county and has filed charges against a New Jersey-based company that distributes a software system to those businesses.

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Ten people and seven businesses were indicted Wednesday. Charges include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, illegal gambling and money laundering.
Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) County Prosecutor Bill Mason says the sweepstakes cafes are illegal gambling businesses.
There is little regulation over the cafes. Ohio lawmakers last week approved a bill that would put a one-year moratorium on new cafes where customers can win cash or merchandise. Customers buy Internet time or phone cards and use them to bet points on computers loaded with games such as poker or slots.

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The Prosecution Rest In Florida Sweepstakes Attorney Case


Judge May Dismiss Case After Prosecution Rest After 10 Days Of Testimony

SANFORD, Fla.  — On Monday , prosecutors rested their case in the trial of a Jacksonville attorney charged with masterminding a veterans group that ran a $300 million gambling operation.cafe2

Prosecutors informed the jury at attorney Kelly Mathis’ trial they had rested their case, only 10 days after giving opening statements where they accused Mathis of being the ringleader of a network of Internet cafes that the state called computer casinos.

The prosecution decided to rest without calling some of  Mathis’ star co-defendants who took deals with prosecutors: former Allied Veterans of the World leaders Johnny Duncan and Jerry Bass and Chase Burns, who operated a company that made software for computers at the dozens of Allied Veterans centers around the world.

Mathis’ defense attorney, Mitch  Stone, says the fact that prosecutors didn’t call the other defendants shows  how weak their case is. The three  witnesses “intended to tell the truth,” and the truth would have hurt prosecutors’ chances of convicting his client.scales2

“Their case certainly has a lot to be desired,” Stone said. “We were expecting a lot more.” Prosecutors refused to comment as to why they decided not to call the co-defendants as witnesses.

Defense attorneys will ask the judge Tuesday to dismiss the case. If the judge does not dismiss the case, the defense will begin calling witnesses.

“The judge should grant a judgment of acquittal, and stop the case,” Curtis Fallgatter, an attorney for Duncan, said in an email.

The arrest of Mathis and 56 other people in March prompted the Florida Legislature to ban the storefront sweepstakes cafes and led to the resignation of former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who had worked as a consultant for Allied Veterans. She has denied wrongdoing and wasn’t charged.

Mathis has pleaded  not guilty to more than 150 charges, including possession of slot machines, keeping gambling houses and other charges. He has maintained from the beginning that he only gave  legal advice and did nothing wrong. He also refused to discuss any chance of of taking a plea from the state.carrol

On the contrary, the  prosecution claimed Mathis helped build up the network of casinos by claiming they were businesses where customers could buy the promoted product and then access the casino-themed games and didn’t use the Internet.

The trial was originally expected to last up to six weeks, that time frame will be much shorter considering yesterday’s surprise ‘rest’ in their case.



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Sweepstakes Gameroom Operators Confident With Legal Argument


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Seminole Tribe of Florida could stop paying tens of millions to the state if legislators

1-877-WIN-CAFE Sweepstakes Players on Hudson Rd.

move ahead with a bill to regulate electronic sweepstakes operations known as Internet cafes.

There are as many as 1,000 of the operations in Florida but there have been questions about whether they are illegal under the state’s gambling laws. The Legislature is considering legislation to either regulate Internet cafes or ban them altogether. Gov. Rick Scott has called for them to be shut down.

A Feb. 1 opinion provided to the Seminoles says any effort to regulate and keep open Internet cafes — which have been branded “storefront casinos” by critics — would violate a 2010 compact the tribe signed with the state.

The state granted the Seminoles exclusive gambling rights in exchange for $1 billion over a five-year period. The Seminoles operate both slot machines and card games such as blackjack at a handful of casinos including ones in South Florida and Tampa.

Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the Seminoles, said that the tribe was “studying the issue, but continues to be committed” to the compact with the state.

But those fighting to regulate Internet cafes blasted the new opinion.

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, contends that Internet cafes started showing up in Florida years before the compact was signed. He vowed to keep fighting any efforts to ban them because they would result in the loss of an estimated 13,000 jobs.

“As the sponsor of the legislation, I will not allow smoke and mirror legal opinions to deter me from seeking to regulate Internet cafes and opposing the job-killing efforts to ban these legal Florida businesses,” Diaz de la Portilla said.

Now that a bill to bring three major casinos to the state has been shot down, the fight over Internet cafes is now the most significant gambling issue remaining to be settled during the 2012 session. Two House committees have already voted in favor of a bill (HB 3) that would ban Internet cafes.





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