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Local cities prepare to lose revenue from Internet cafes

11:43 PM, May 27, 2013   |    comments
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EASTLAKE, Ohio -- As a bill banning Internet cafes in Ohio awaits Governor John Kasich's signature, some local cities are preparing to lose extra revenue.

"We knew it wouldn't last," said Eastlake Mayor Ted Andrzejewski. "We said that if the state wasn't going to regulate them, we were going to take the view that we'll allow them, but we will put some regulation on them."

Two years ago, the city passed an ordinance placing licensing fees and regulations on internet cafes. Five cafes generated $160,000 in extra revenue last year for the city's general fund.

A bonus in tough economic times.

"That could pay for two policemen, two firemen... a snow plow, or whatever other equipment we need," Andrzejewski said.

In Sheffield Lake, it means adding another ambulance to the city's safety fleet.

Using more than $60,000 from revenue generated from Internet cafes, the city was able to buy a used ambulance and new gear for the fire department.

But not everyone is sad to see the cafes go. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine believes that many internet cafes are illegal gambling sites that are linked to crime.

If the governor signs the legislation in the next few days, some 800 internet cafes across the state will be forced to close.

Eastlake officials say they've had no problems with the cafes. Mayor Andrzejewski says they have been popular among senior citizens who enjoy socializing while playing the games.

As for the loss of revenue?

City officials have already made adjustments to the city's annual budget.

"It was fun while it lasted," Andrzejewski said.


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