Moratorium on Internet cafe rules may be continued
Marysville City Council's public affairs committee is not seeing eye to eye with Mayor John Gore's administration on whether to extend the city's moratorium on regulating Internet sweepstakes cafes and skill-game rooms.
Council heard the first reading of an amended ordinance Thursday, Sept. 12, that would extend a moratorium that was first instituted -- at Gore's request -- in December 2011.
The public affairs committee worked for 10 months to design legislation regulating such businesses in the city. The ordinance to do so was approved a year ago this month.
Gore asked for the moratorium three months later, citing bills aimed at banning Internet cafes altogether in Ohio that were then making their way through the Ohio General Assembly.
Ohio lawmakers have continued to work on legislation to ban Internet cafes; however, the Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs is seeking a referendum vote in November 2014 to keep House Bill 7 from going into effect. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has directed county boards of election to complete the validation of signatures on the referendum petitions by Friday, Sept. 20.
Marysville City Administrator Terry Emery said all this activity at the state level is a sign Marysville should proceed with caution.
"There's so many things going on with the attorney general and looking into the legality of Internet cafes that we just think it's in our community's best interest to extend the moratorium until the state of Ohio and the attorney general have a chance to fully vet the issue," Emery told council.
He noted that due to recent events, he felt it would be in the city's best interest to take a step back and evaluate where to go in this particular area.
On Aug. 1, Marysville police, Union County sheriff's deputies and the Union County Prosecutor's Office executed search warrants and seized gaming terminals at Marysville Internet Cafe, 302 E. Fifth St.
City Law Director Tim Aslaner said that investigation is ongoing. Marysville Police Chief Floyd Golden said there have been no new developments in the case since the initial search.
Councilwoman Deborah Groat, chairwoman of the public affairs committee, said there is no animosity between the committee and the administration on the issue -- they just see things differently.
"We worked for about 10 months with people who owned and managed businesses in Marysville," Groat said. "We put great legislation into place. I see no reason not to use the legislation we have."
The committee voted 3-0 in August to not extend the moratorium, but since that vote was in direct opposition to the administration's position, Groat said she thought it would be best to take the issue to the full council for a vote.
A second reading of the am-ended ordinance is scheduled for council's Sept. 26 meeting.
Aslaner said there is nothing wrong with the city's existing legislation but he thinks there is still some debate concerning the legality of what's going on at Internet cafes or skill-game rooms.
Groat said Marysville has lost its three Internet sweep-stakes/gaming businesses over the last few months but there has been one application filed by a different owner for a new gaming-type business.
"If a business wants to come to Marysville and call themselves a gaming business and calls themselves legal according to the state of Ohio, let the state shut them down," she said. "We're not going to shut them down."