Law enforcement around the state are cracking down on Internet café operations after an effort to repeal the regulations fell short. Opponents say the new laws will kill thousands of jobs. But supporters tell Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow that the state had to put a stop to what they called illegal gambling.
The Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs led an effort to fight the laws created in HB7, they say the regulations effectively ban Internet cafes.
On Thursday the committee announced that it fell short of the required amount of signatures needed to put a referendum on the November 2014 ballot.
Republican Representative Matt Huffman, of Lima, sponsored the bill and has no problem admitting that these provisions will put people out of work. But he emphasizes that these are jobs that were connected to illegal gambling and Ohio lawmakers made the decision to crackdown on these operations.
“We could create many many jobs in Ohio if we wanted to legalize prostitution—if we wanted to legalize marijuana, heroin, other drugs—you’d have people flocking to Ohio," Huffman says. "Of course you’d have to pay the social price and economic price.”
The group was the first referendum effort to be subjected to the new signature collecting laws, and they say they were hampered by this new system.
The committee had an initial 90 days to collect about 231,000 valid signatures. The Secretary of State’s office determined that the committee fell short, so the group had another 10 days to meet their quota. In the past, groups could collect signatures while the Secretary of State’s office counts the first batch. Starting this year that process is banned.