State and local authorities raided two storefront gambling operations Tuesday morning in Medina County and charged the owner with operating an illegal casino, a fifth-degree felony, and other misdemeanor gambling offenses.
The businesses had cash-operated slot machines and were not Internet cafes, authorities said.
“The joint investigation shows that these locations are operating as illegal casinos with no regulatory oversight,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a prepared statement.
Investigators removed dozens of machines from Cyber City, 2696 Medina Road, Sharon Township, and Cyber 777’s, 1733 Pearl Road, Brunswick, at 10 a.m.
Authorities later executed a search warrant at the home of owner Adam Syed of Fairlawn and a business owned by him on Triplett Boulevard in Akron. It was not immediately clear the name of the Akron business.
Syed is accused of violating the Ohio Casino Control Act, which bars anyone other than four voter-approved casinos from operating a casino.
“The criminal code associated with the Ohio Casino Control Act is designed to ensure the integrity of casino gaming in our state,” Ohio Casino Control Commission Director of Enforcement Karen Huey said in a prepared statement. “Today’s raid sends a strong message that illegal gaming operations will not be allowed.”
The raids involved the Medina sheriff, Ohio attorney general, Brunswick police, Akron police, Fairlawn police and Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, Tierney said.
The investigation was started by the Medina Sheriff’s Office and state authorities were asked to assist in the operation, he said.
Later Tuesday, Gov. John Kasich signed into law an effective ban on storefront sweepstakes parlors that many legislators had become convinced were harboring illegal gambling operations.
The Republican governor recently had signed an immediate moratorium on opening new Internet cafes effective until the law signed Tuesday takes effect.
More than 620 Internet cafes are in operation across the state, representing growing competition to legalized casinos and games held for charity.
Lawmakers moved to ban Internet cafes despite hours of testimony by owners and employees who said the operations were legal and workers’ livelihoods would be ruined.