In late May 2012, prosecutors in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, indicted 10 individuals and seven corporations for operating a number of illegal internet cafes. These charges are the latest in a string of legal crackdowns that have hit business owners in Ohio and the Upper Midwest. According to allegations, these businesses were operating illegal sweepstakes outlets that offered gambling entries to patrons who purchased internet time.
These charges were the culmination of an eight-month investigation that was led by county prosecutors, the local police department and the FBI. In January, officials conducted a raid and seized approximately 80 gambling machines in the Cleveland area. Investigators who are familiar with the case say that the scheme was very complex. According to initial reports, it's possible that the business owners weren't even aware that the internet sweepstakes machines were illegal.
A scheme crossing state lines
This extensive investigation linked the internet cafe owners to a New Jersey-based company known as VS2. Although the business operators were indicted for operating illegal gambling establishments, officials believe that VS2 was the primary beneficiary of the scheme. Preliminary reports show that VS2 located bars and internet cafes where the gambling system could be placed. Then, they would rake in significant amounts of unregulated cash by ripping off gamblers.
Based on initial estimates, officials believe that VS2 was claiming 25 percent of all gambling revenue. Using this scheme, VS2 made millions in funds related to illegal gambling with the help of local business owners who assumed most of the risk. Establishments indicted in the recent investigation include Good Times Charlie's II and Mr. B's, which are both located in Parma Heights. Sponsoring illegal gambling or games of chance in businesses and private homes is a serious crime that prosecutors are targeting.
If you have been charged with crimes related to illegal gambling at the state or federal levels, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Attorney Greg Robey of Cleveland is currently defending a client in an internet café gambling matter.