The deadline for Internet "sweepstakes" cafes in Toledo to apply for licenses under a new city ordinance came and went Wednesday with only a handful of businesses submitting their paperwork to comply with the law.
Scott Searle, administrative services officer in the city's Department of Finance, said just five cafes out of a list of about 16 had applied for operating licenses as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. Councilman D. Michael Collins, who sponsored the legislation, has estimated there are about 28 Internet cafes in Toledo.
Mr. Searle said the city will still accept applications after the deadline, but cafes could be subject to penalties. He didn't say what those penalties would be.
However, Mr. Collins said he will seek to shut down any businesses who fail to apply and pay for their licenses by Sept. 30, when the money is due.
"If there isn't full compliance by the end of September, then it would be my hope that the City of Toledo would by that time stop their operations," he said.
Cafe owners are required to pay a $5,000 operating fee annually, along with $200 per machine, to the city for the license.
Joe Rigali, who owns Kings Internet Cafe in South Toledo, said he had submitted his license application and was surprised many other business owners hadn't. He said the city needs to move right away to crack down on those who aren't complying with the law.
"If the City of Toledo has the authority to pass it and make it legislation then I sure would hope they'd have the authority to enforce it, and heavy handedly and swiftly," he said. "There's no excuses."
Mr. Rigali said the new law is hurting his business. He said he is reducing staff and moving two thirds of his machines up to Michigan to avoid paying some of the Toledo fees.