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Issue Date: Vol. 54, No. 5, May 2014, Posted On: 4/14/2014

Adult Skill Gamerooms Emerge In Ohio, Which Mulls New Amusement Regulations

by Staff Reporter
TAGS: Ohio skill game room, redemption gameroom, Ohio sweepstakes, Internet cafe, prize regulations, location-based entertainment centers, skee-ball, coin basketball games, awarding noncash prizes, skill-based, Ohio House Bill 491, coin-op machine

SPRINGFIELD, OH -- They're the same types of games found in arcades and location-based entertainment centers. Adult gamerooms specializing in skill equipment like skee-ball and basketball games, awarding noncash prizes, are opening up in parts of Ohio.

In Springfield, OH, Roc-In-Skill Games opened last year, while Players Club Internet Café reopened last month as a skill-based gameroom, according to a story in the Springfield News-Sun. A third location is expected to open in the city next month.

The skill gameroom trend is emerging a year after Ohio lawmakers effectively shut down Internet cafés. However, the News-Sun reported that new legislation in the Ohio House could regulate these operations, which are alternatives to sweepstakes cafés. Skill games are regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission and it had rules in effect prior to Internet café laws.

Under current law, skill-based games are prohibited from giving cash prizes. The Ohio Revised Code defines skill-based amusement machines as mechanical, video, digital or electronic devices -- typical redemption games that require athletic or physical skill. Players are rewarded only with merchandise prizes or vouchers redeemable for merchandise that don't exceed $10 in value and must be distributed on site at the time of play.

The state Legislature has proposed a new bill that would regulate the skill-based gamerooms. House Bill 491, was introduced on March 18. If passed, the legislation would require skill-based gameroom operators to receive a state license. It would also require the Casino Control Commission to create compliance standards involving equipment, financial records, auditing and computations and recording of compensation and winnings.

Almost a year ago, the Ohio Legislature passed a bill designed to shut down hundreds of Internet cafés, which operated slot-type sweepstakes videogames, by limiting payouts from machines to $10, which is not much of an incentive for patrons. | SEE STORY

Separately, an illegal casino with 200 slot machines that masqueraded as a skill-game parlor has been shut down this month. But state regulators warned that similar, smaller businesses might still be operating in the state. See story in The Columbus Dispatch.

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