Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill that will effectively ban Internet cafés in Ohio (“Bill basically banning ‘sweeps’ cafés passes,” May 23). These establishments have prospered for 10 years by providing uncontrolled gambling with the tacit approval of local authorities.
Nonprofit organizations that operated charitable bingo games, such as the Glassmen Drum & Bugle Corps, have been advocating regulation of these establishments ever since they began appearing. Through Ohio voters’ approval of legalized gambling in casinos, the illicit activities of these businesses have been scrutinized and addressed.
Unfortunately, this action comes too late to help many nonprofits that relied on bingo games to fund useful community programs and provide neighborhood entertainment. The proliferation of Internet cafés increasingly siphoned off bingo attendance to the point where the costs of bingo operations exceeded revenue.
After flourishing for more than 30 years in East Toledo, the Glassmen closed their bingo hall there. The loss of this crucial financial support led to debts that forced the Glassmen’s board of directors to suspend this world-renowned music performance group. Forty instructors lost their summer jobs, and 150 youths are deprived of the superior educational opportunities and experience that the Glassmen provided.
We hope the Internet café legislation will create a resurgence of interest in local bingo and other legitimate charitable games offered by dedicated volunteers and supporters of organizations that fund church programs, youth sports, or, in our case, a world-class musical activity.