On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate did what it should have done a month ago — act decisively to put sweepstakes parlors out of business. In May, the Senate approved a House bill to shut down the parlors, but the measure, signed by Gov. John Kasich, lacked an emergency clause.
That gave parlor owners and their allies a 90-day window to begin gathering signatures to put the ban in the form of a referendum before voters in November 2014. The industry immediately marshalled the resources needed to begin the petition drive, likely stalling implementation of the bill until after next year’s general election.
The Senate now has attached an amendment on sweepstakes parlors to a bill, with an emergency clause, relating to casino gambling. If the bill passes and is signed by the governor, it will not be subject to a referendum. The amendment would limit sweepstakes prizes to 5 percent of gross receipts, effectively putting the parlors out of business.
The House should quickly follow the Senate’s lead, ending an expansion of gambling never approved by the voters or the legislature and not subject to state regulation.
As did the Senate, the House should pay close attention to law enforcement officials such as Mike DeWine, the state attorney general, who is closing down parlors for illegal gambling, money laundering and other criminal activities. That means ignoring misleading claims that parlors are mom-and-pop operations giving sweepstakes prizes to those buying Internet time or phone cards.